SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Worsening coronavirus cases in California and across the country have placed enormous strain on testing capacity and processing of lab results.
Lengthening wait times for test results have blunted the effectiveness of widespread testing of asymptomatic people who may be infected and capable of spreading the virus without getting sick themselves.
“We have had people come through our clinic who’ve tested positive without feeling sick. So, it’s important to know that even though you’re not showing symptoms, you certainly can be positive,” said Jane Wulf, a site coordinator for a pop-up testing clinic at Independence High School in San Jose.
Santa Clara County Public Health officials say nearly a quarter million tests have been conducted countywide since January. On average, the county says test results are returned in two days.
But a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente, the country’s largest managed health care provider, said outbreaks in other parts of the country have taxed every facet of the testing system.
Kaiser released a prepared statement that read in part, “With more states increasing their testing capability, resources are being diverted and stretched thin, once again putting serious limits on the ability to expand testing capabilities further.”
The statement continues, “Testing labs around the country are reporting that their turnaround times for results have doubled in the last few weeks.”
“If you can get tested, it’s vital. The numbers are going back up. We don’t know what we’re dealing with. It’s scary to me as an older person with a few health issues going on,” said Stephanie Rideau outside a free county pop-up testing site in Gilroy.
Bay Area counties have significantly expanded testing capacity in recent weeks. Santa Clara County nearly 9,000 people in a single day in late June. But the testing system is reliant on available tests and medical supplies like cotton swabs and specialized chemicals for processing the results.
The demands for tests was evident Friday afternoon at a pop-up site at Independence High School in San Jose. The line formed hours before the site officially opened, snaking around the campus. Chris Mosley waited for two hours to make sure he had a spot near the front of the line.
“My daughter plans to come visit us. And I thought it would be best for us to be tested before she made the decision to book her trip,” said Mosley.
For a list of COVID-19 testing sites around the Bay Area to find one near you, click here.