More COVID-19 testing could mean a quicker re-opening, county says
–COVID-19 testing protects community members and their loved ones from unknowingly spreading the disease, but local health officials say it also has another benefit: The more people get tested, the faster the state will ease pandemic-related restrictions locally.
“Testing for COVID-19 is as important as ever,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “First and foremost, it helps you and your loved ones stay safe. But it also has an added benefit of allowing us to progress towards safely reopening our local businesses and schools.”
SLO County benefits when more people get tested from COVID-19. By increasing the number of tests conducted here, SLO County could move faster through the tiers of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Every county in the state is assigned one of four tiers based on its risk level related to COVID-19 test positivity, health equity, and adjusted case rate. SLO County is currently in the Purple Tier with “widespread” risk of COVID-19 because of its current case rate. While the county’s positivity rate and health equity metric meet or exceed the Orange Tier thresholds, the county’s case rate only meets Purple Tier thresholds.
However, the state adjusts the county’s overall case rate based on testing volume. As testing volume increases, the county’s adjusted case rate decreases. Likewise, as testing volume decreases, the county’s adjusted case rate can increase.
Community testing sites are available throughout the county – in Nipomo, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo, with many sites now open until 7 p.m., and some offer Saturday testing as well. Walk-ups are now allowed, in addition to appointments. The test itself is much more comfortable, as health care workers at the sites now swab the “anterior nares,” or the base of the nostril, instead of the upper cavity that was customary early in the pandemic. Turnaround times for tests have also decreased, with results delivered in one to three days.
Fast, safe, convenient, and free COVID-19 testing is available to you. Make a COVID-19 test appointment at www.EmergencySLO.org/testing.
For more information, visit www.ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center is available at (805) 543-2444 or (805) 781-4280, 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.