CSAC Bulletin Article

Task Force and Updated Guidance for COVID-19 Testing

April 23, 2020

Over the weekend, the California Department of Public Health released the new COVID-19 testing prioritization document. The California Testing Task Force also hosted a webinar to discuss the increase in COVID-19 testing capacity and areas that they will continue working on.

Testing Prioritization

The purpose of the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 testing prioritization guidance is to assist public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories with making local testing priority decisions. The guidance continues to place symptomatic health care workers and individuals hospitalized as a top priority for testing. Subsequent priorities include asymptomatic health care workers and individuals in congregate living facilities as well as symptomatic essential workers.    

CSAC anticipates additional updates to the testing guidance as the Administration works to expand testing throughout the state.

Testing Task Force

The Testing Task force identified their key goals as increasing the total number of tests, having a 24-hour results turnaround, results with 90% testing accuracy, and equitable and convenient testing access. The webinar featured presentations from the co-chairs Dr. Charity Dean, Assistant Director of the California Department of Public Health; Paul Markovich, President and CEO of Blue Shield of California; and a Task Force member Dr. Christina Kong, Vice Chair and Medical Director of Pathology& Clinical Lab, Stanford University.

The ability to increase COVID-19 testing in the state is of the highest importance to the Task Force and has a direct impact to the state’s ability to loosen current orders. The presenters outlined California’s aggressive goal of 25,000 tests per day by the end of April and additional testing sites. In less than a month the state has increased testing capacity from 2,000 tests per day to its current level of 16,900 tests per day. The Task Force reported that after the statewide laboratory inventory does have the capacity to reach the 60,000 tests per day goal. In addition to the testing goal, the Task Force reported more than 80 additional sites to increase the current 270 testing collection sites.

The Task Force has begun communication with local Emergency Operation Centers and counties, on where the locations of these sites will be placed. The statewide goal is for a testing site to be within a 30 minute driving time in urban areas and within a 60 minute driving time in rural areas. The number of additional sites in a particular county will vary based on the criteria the administration is using to eliminate testing deserts, particularly in rural communities and communities of color.

The Testing Task Force is working to develop a robust tracking system that will be available to the public. As the Task Force works to make progress on their stated goals, information will be released regularly. CSAC will closely monitor for any additional relevant testing information.

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