Santa Clara County plans to open two COVID-19 testing sites this week in underserved areas – one at James Lick High School in San Jose and the other at Christopher High School in Gilroy.
“As much as we’ve had a bottleneck throughout the nation on testing, this is a big day,” said county Supervisor David Cortese. “This is a sign of things to come.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s drive to open 80 testing sites statewide reached the county with the introduction of the sites. Operated by OptumServe, the sites will provide tests to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods with COVID-19 symptoms. The service is free to all, including those without insurance or permanent citizenship status.
Deputy county counsel David Campos said those wanting to be tested must answer a series of questions to determine whether they are candidates. Results are available in approximately 48 hours. Each facility can test 132 people daily, but capacity will likely increase along with demand.
Jacky Franco, leader of East Side Peace Partnership, and Magdalena Carrasco, the James Lick High area’s district city council representative, stressed the impact the testing sites will have on their neighborhoods, especially for residents already suffering from inability to pay rising rents, food insecurity, a lack of job opportunities and educational gaps.
“Our communities have been deeply impacted by COVID-19,” Franco said. “Their worries intensified and many are having to make hard decisions, like whether to pay for rent or food, go to work or lose a paycheck. Broadening testing in this community is needed (as) barriers are keeping our people at a higher risk for exposure.”
Carrasco noted a trend once national and now local: the huge percentage of COVID-19 cases contracted by people of color, specifically Latinos. Latinos make up 27% of the county’s population, but they account for 38% of confirmed coronavirus cases, she said, adding that the disparity indicates how a demographic that struggled before is overburdened even more amid the pandemic.
“The numbers at the beginning of the pandemic did not reflect these disparities, but they were reflected throughout the country,” she said. “I knew in my gut that we would catch up eventually, as we now have.”
The goal is to be able to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic people countywide to understand the scope of the virus, said Cindy Chavez president of the Board of Supervisors.
For more information on COVID-19 testing in the county, visit sccgov.org/cv19testing.