California officials explain how state is expanding COVID-19 testing

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services Secretary, held a press conference Tuesday in Gov. Gavin Newsom's place to give an update on the state's coronavirus surge.

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Ghaly focused on the state's effort to expand COVID-19 testing, especially to the most susceptible populations and communities.

At the end of March and early April, the state was conducting about 2,000 tests a day. In July, we're averaging 105,000 tests daily, he said.

California has conducted more than 5.5 million coronavirus tests since the start of the pandemic.

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State officials believe more testing will help curb the spread of the virus because it will allow COVID-19 positive patients to quarantine and isolate more quickly before spreading it to others.

California is working to shift some of the burden of testing from state-run sites to pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other health care providers.

"By moving as much testing as possible to these providers or to local labs, we can increase access to testing and be able to identify patients who meet the highest testing priority. That will help us focus on the highest risk Californians," said Castro Ramirez, Secretary of Business, Consumer Services and Housing.

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The state is also working with health insurance providers to make sure the cost of a COVID-19 test, which is about $100, is reimbursed for everyone.

On Monday, Gov. Newsom ordered the mandatory closure of indoor restaurants, bars and other businesses statewide in an attempt to get the spread of the virus under control. In counties on the watch list, even more sectors are being asked to close. The changes can be complicated to sort through; we break down what it means for the Bay Area here.

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