Humboldt County Public Health Department ramping up Covid-19 testing as cases continue to surge

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) — As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase across the country, and also here locally, more and more people are wanting to get tested for the virus.

“Well, we’ve certainly seen an increase in testing volume and the need for that, and so we are very fortunate to have that Optum expansion to help meet that need,” according to former Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich.

More people are seeking out coronavirus testing as the number of local cases continues to climb. In addition to expanding testing at the OptumServe site at Redwood Acres to include weekends, the County is also partnering with them to roll out a mobile unit 5 days a week across the North Coast.

Testing capacity for OptumServe will have tripled as of next week. With both the OptumServe site and the internal public health lab, the County can now test 3,000 specimens a week.

“More than 100 times what we could do at the start of the pandemic. In addition, our new regional testing partnership with UIHS and Del Norte County is finalizing its preparations and is expected to begin adding to our capacity sometime this month,” Frankovich says.

On top of regional testing partnerships, Public Health is also set to receive rapid tests that can have results within in minutes as opposed to days. They will be distributed to acute care settings.

“They will have some ability to test symptomatic people in front of them with a rapid point of care test, and these tests perform very well actually for symptomatic individuals,” according to Frankovich.

Dr. Frankovich did not give any more details on when exactly those tests would be available. As far as the turnaround time for tests, people are reporting varying wait times. Dr. Frankovich says OptumServe is contractually supposed to get test results back in 48 hours, but since they are sent to a lab in Valencia, California we have to account for transit time.