COVID-19 test site coming to Grass Valley | TheUnion.com
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COVID-19 test site coming to Grass Valley

John Orona
Staff Writer

A new COVID-19 testing site coming to Grass Valley next week would put Nevada County on track with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of testing 60,000-80,000 Californians per day, a key indicator in easing state restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The testing site, one of 80 the state announced in partnership with federal government health services business OptumServe, would add the capacity to test up to 130 people each day. The county to date has tested just under 1,200 people.

Location details aren’t yet finalized, yet could occur as early as this afternoon.

The county is urging all residents with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested. Details for how one can schedule an appointment will be available soon, a county official said.

“These new testing sites will help Nevada County and our neighboring counties dramatically increase testing capacity for those who have had limited access to COVID-19 tests up until now,” said Dr. Ken Cutler, Nevada County health officer, in a press release. “Additional testing locally and statewide will help us work towards a thoughtful and phased reopening.”

When Newsom this week laid out a four-stage road map to relaxing stay-at-home restrictions, the ability to meet testing demands was listed as one of six key determinants in moving from the safety and preparedness stage to Stage Two, when lower risk workplaces can begin opening and local jurisdictions would have more control.

Stable hospitalization and intensive care unit trends; hospital surge capacity; sufficiency of personal protective equipment stocks; and contact tracing capacity were also key indicators for moving into Stage Two.

Once a statewide COVID-19 surveillance system is possible through increased testing, further regional variations would be possible, Newsom said.

According to Health and Human Services Agency Director Ryan Gruver, other such labs that have begun operating are testing about 80-90 people a day.

“While we may not start with 130 per day, we imagine we will slowly ramp up and serve more larger numbers of people,” Gruver said in an email. “This effort moves us closer to our goal of expanding testing opportunities until all those who are symptomatic, regardless of socioeconomic status, have access to testing, and it moves us closer to the overall statewide goals that need to be met in order to reopen the economy.”

Testing will be by appointment only based on criteria from OptumServe, which Gruver said would allow for very broad testing.

“As testing continues to expand, we hope to get to a place to be able to test even more widely,” Gruver said.

Gruver added that, ideally, officials would have the capacity to test everyone who is even mildly symptomatic for COVID-19. Such broad testing will enable the county to better understand how many people within the community have been exposed to the coronavirus, and evaluate the risk for additional infections.

After an initial shortage of tests at the outbreak of the pandemic, health care providers have since struggled finding specimen collection supplies and with the slow pace of test results.

According to OptumServe’s website, its site will provide end-to-end testing, collecting specimens and reporting results to individuals on-site.

Gruver said the county has worked with Placer County to place one of its sites in a spot accessible to people in eastern Nevada County.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@thrunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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