Bay Area counties expanding COVID testing after reporting 'overwhelming demand'

Stephanie Sierra Image
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Demand for COVID testing 'overwhelming' in some Bay Area counties
As the Delta variant spreads rapidly across the Bay Area - so is the demand for COVID testing.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the Delta variant spreads rapidly across the Bay Area - so is the demand for COVID testing.

Health officials are reporting demand for testing has increased in every county --- some even saying the need has been 'overwhelming' over the past month.

"We're definitely seeing a spike," said Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase.

RELATED: 72,000 COVID cases reported among US children, teens last week, a 'substantial' spike

Sonoma County health officials say they've gone from administering 1,000 tests per week to 10,000 tests per week due to heightened demand stemming from the Delta variant. The county is partnering with four healthcare providers to expand testing sites and is working to increase staffing to avoid any backlog and reduce turnaround times.

"We are working with our laboratory which is a regional lab about going back to weekend staffing and running tests on the weekend so we don't have a lag," Mase said.

The increase in demand is reported in every Bay Area county and across California. State data shows on July 6, the seven-day average COVID test rate per 100,000 people was around 260. A few weeks later on July 28 that weekly average jumped to 401.

Mass testing sites are still being offered in Santa Clara and Solano counties, like the Fairgrounds-Expo Hall in San Jose and the Solano Mall in Fairfield. All counties are partnering with healthcare providers or community clinics to offer testing, but most have additional vendors under contract.

RELATED: Santa Clara County utilizing mobile COVID testing sites as demand spikes in recent weeks

"We are working with our local labs and have reopened contracts with additional labs to make sure we have the capacity to do this testing as well as the testing site capacity," said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano. "We are also looking at adding additional hours to keep up with the testing demand."

San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax says the city is exploring all possibilities, but remain focused on providing testing in clinics, skilled-nursing facilities, and shelters. It's unclear if the city will go back to opening mass testing sites off the Embarcadero or in the Mission.

"We're looking into this now," said Colfax. "I'm hoping we can mitigate some of the wait times. I expect those unfortunately to continue to go up, because we were down to 2,000 tests a day not that long ago and now we're at 5,000 tests per day."

Colfax says if the city starts administering 7,000 to 9,000 tests per day the county will need to expand testing sites.

"It's a priority, but so is getting vaccinated," he said. "I don't want testing to distract us from the need of getting vaccinated."

RELATED: Do vaccinated people need to get tested for COVID?

ABC chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton explains what we know and don't know about the threat posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Where can you get tested?

If you're curious where you can get tested in the Bay Area. Our ABC7 data team has compiled a map of every testing site, clinic, and pharmacy that is open across the region.

Health officials also encourage residents to consult their provider to get a test or purchase home testing kits available at stores like CVS and Walgreens.

CDC COVID-19 Transmission Categories by California County

Map not displaying correctly? Click here to open in a new window.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.