SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The initial feedback from Santa Clara County’s new door-to-door coronavirus testing program has been encouraging, according to public health officials.
The pilot program, which was announced last week and began on December 10th, adds to the wide array of testing options in the South Bay.
“We are still figuring out what a good day looks like, because every encounter is different,” said Santa Clara County Racial and Health Equity Senior Manager Dr. Analilia Garcia. “To date, we haven’t received news of any negative encounter. It’s actually been really positive and well received.”
The county contracted with META (Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Accion), a community activist group based in East San Jose.
Four teams of two people known as “promotores” — Spanish-speaking community health workers — fan out across the east side to administer the so-called “observed self-collection” COVID tests.
The samples are collected outdoors, since the promotores do not enter the homes. The workers wear PPE, have county ID badges and are posting flyers around the neighborhood before their arrival.
“They ask a lot of questions, which is good,” said META member Olivia Ortiz.
Ortiz said on a single shift, she was able to visit at least eight homes and was generally well received. Being a local with a friendly face helps to reduce anxiety and puts the neighbors at ease, Ortiz explained.
“I can relate to those people. I’m like, ‘What would work best for me?’ I mean, somebody’s coming to my house, someone that I know, someone that can speak my language, you know someone that looks like me,” said Ortiz.
Dr. Garcia said the trust that the promotores foster will be key to the success of the program.
“Their approach is is really genuine, and you know comes from the heart. And the secret sauce to this work, is them,” said Garcia.
Maria Ocampo, an employee at the San Jose Convention Center, said she would welcome the promotores if they came to her home.
“So if they want to knock on my door, of course I would be interested in staying healthy. I like to stay protected, I always wear a mask. I rarely leave my home,” said Ocampo through a translator.
“If you had the right credentials and everything looks legit, then yeah, of course. Heck yeah!” said San Jose resident George Garcia.