'Big Step:' Santa Clara Co. debuts self-swab COVID-19 testing in East San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise, Santa Clara County officials are launching a new effort to get more people tested for the potentially deadly virus.

As of Tuesday morning, testing is now being done by a self-administered nasal swab at the pop-up location at Emmanuel Baptist Church in East San Jose, which is one of the areas in the county hit hardest by COVID-19.

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"It was easier than I thought it would be," said San Jose resident Kamille Guarin, "It wasn't scary at all."

People who come for a test can watch a video on their smartphone, outlining the testing process while waiting in line.

The county says staff members will monitor the sample collection to ensure that it's done right, but nurses will still be on-site to assist anyone who needs a helping hand.

Researchers at Stanford University say it's an innovative approach that is safe and accurate.

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"This is a big step in diagnostic testing for COVID," said Stanford associate professor of emergency medicine Dr. Prasanthi Govindarajan. "This comes at a time when we have to really scale this process up. We have to get people tested."

Health officials say it's important to know your status, especially with the county's test positivity rate now at 4%, which is up from 2% just a month ago.

"This has been important for us to do so that we can continue to offer as much testing as we have been, while we have nurses that are needed elsewhere, including our hospitals, and including preparations for COVID vaccination," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, county hospital surge branch director.

The county has also expanded drive-thru appointments at multiple locations, including the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, which will continue to offer traditional COVID-19 testing administered by a county healthcare worker.

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