The Perfect Enemy | COVID-19 testing options still available in Monterey County as state-supported sites close - Monterey Herald
February 2, 2023

COVID-19 testing options still available in Monterey County as state-supported sites close – Monterey Herald

COVID-19 testing options still available in Monterey County as state-supported sites close  Monterey Herald

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SALINAS – Some state-supported COVID-19 testing sites in Monterey County ended operations over the weekend leaving other options for testing to absorb the number of those seeking the service.

The California Department of Public Health recently notified the Monterey County Health Department that due to declining use of testing sites in the county, the state would be decreasing COVID-19 testing appointments locally.

“The usage of the state-supported sites has fallen to a point the state cannot justify keeping them open,” said Monterey County Health Department spokeswoman Karen Smith. “There are many factors that have led to the dwindling numbers of people getting tested including the availability of at-home tests.”

Other testing opportunities still exist for those who suspect having, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.

Home-testing kits are still free through federal programs that mail COVID-19 testing kits to households by visiting www.covid.gov/tests/ or at local pharmacies for those who are enrolled in Medicare Part B, Medi-Cal, or for people with private insurance.

Agencies and organizations serving the uninsured and under-insured can obtain free COVID-19 test kits for distribution through the Medical Health Operation Area Coordinator request process at https://apps.co.monterey.ca.us/emsrequest.

Organizations such as the VIDA project and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Mobile Van continue to provide testing opportunities around Monterey County.

The SVMHS Mobile Health Clinic launched in January 2020 with a commitment to providing underserved populations easy access to health care services free of charge and since that time has logged more than 11,000 patient visits, performed more than 2,800 COVID-19 tests to date and administered nearly 1,500 vaccines, according to Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System spokeswoman Karina Rusk.

“We’re proud our mobile health clinic has been an instrumental vehicle to deliver care to families that might otherwise not seek these services because of expense, travel or fear,” said SVMHS Mobile Health Clinic Manager Lynette Fitzgerald. “During the pandemic and as long as it remains a valuable service to the communities we serve, we will continue to offer COVID-19 testing and vaccines through our mobile clinic. The outreach and free services have been valuable tools to reduce the spread of the virus, reduce severe illness and save lives.”

Rusk said that in addition to contributions from donors to the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation, it recently received a much-appreciated donation of COVID-19 test kits from the Central Infusion Alliance amounting to more than 9,000 tests.

“Since the emergence of the virus, our materials management team has aggressively secured COVID-19-related supplies to meet the safety and treatment needs of our patients and staff,” said Rusk. “We appreciate the many partnerships and collaborations they established during the height of the pandemic that continue to serve our community today.”

Testing locations can be found on the county’s website at www.montereycountyCOVID19.com.

“Given the low use of the state testing sites, there will likely not be much of an impact on other sites,” said Smith.

Logistics Health, Inc. agreed with the California Department of Public Health when testing first became available months after the start of the pandemic, establishing testing sites throughout the state and in Monterey County. As public demand for no-cost testing increased, Logistics Health provided more testing appointments within local health jurisdictions and expanded the types of testing venues offered.

As public demand for testing decreased due to several factors including at-home testing kits, LHI decreased the number of testing appointments, locations, hours and types of venues.

On Sunday, LHI testing locations closed including the traveling sites in Greenfield at 493 El Camino Real at the Greenfield Unified School District Office, as well as in Pacific Grove at 435 Hillcrest Ave. at the Pacific Grove Unified School District Office and the fixed site at 940 North Main St. in Salinas at Sherwood Hall, and the drive-through site at 401 Gabilan Dr. in Soledad at the Soledad Library.

The fixed site at Monterey County Behavioral Health at 299 12th Street in Marina will remain open with LHI continuing to monitor the use of the site.

Testing for individuals who are at risk of serious illness and wish to be treated with antivirals may continue to schedule appointments at the LHI testing site in Marina.

Individuals who may have worsening symptoms and wish to be evaluated and tested and treated may seek medical care at local urgent care facilities, emergency departments, outpatient health clinics and certain private medical providers.

For people without access to a medical provider, Sesame Care has partnered with the California Department of Public Health to provide free telehealth visits to Californians 12 years of age and older who test positive for COVID-19 and would like to be evaluated for treatment. Visit https://sesamecare.com/covidca for information. Sesame Care also provides telephone-based services.

“The testing sites have been a vital part of the response to COVID-19,” said Smith. “The decommissioning of the sites does not mean we let our guard down. Getting vaccinated and boosted as well as staying home when you are sick, if you are at risk for complications from COVID-19 and get sick seek care, cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands frequently.”