SMC Supes Approve $5M Coronavirus Testing Contract With Verily

SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — San Mateo County moved to ramp up coronavirus testing Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Verily worth up to $5 million.

The county has partnered with Verily, Alphabet Inc.'s life sciences research organization that launched the Project Baseline program to provide free COVID-19 testing, since March.

The original resolution, adopted March 24, allowed the county to contract with entities providing COVID-19 related services for a maximum of $500,000, paid from the county's federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The amended resolution increases the agreement threshold to $5 million as the county aims to increase testing to over 1,000 tests daily, up from the previous daily average of 600 to 700 tests. Verily provides 17 percent of the county's testing, according to Louise Rogers, San Mateo County's chief of health.

COVID-19 testing is available Tuesday through Saturday at the San Mateo County Event Center. San Mateo County also partners with Verily to provide mobile testing sites on rotation in various cities.

In addition to Verily, the county also introduced targeted, neighborhood-level testing for at-risk communities, which would make testing more accessible via walk-in sites.

The neighborhood test sites also allow for testing of people under 18 years old, which Verily currently does not provide.

Targeted testing is available in cities such as East Palo Alto and San Mateo. Another site will open in Redwood City.

The goal of targeted testing is to decrease barriers to testing and to increase health education, according to Deputy County Manager Justin Mates.

A full testing schedule is available at County officials encouraged residents to seek COVID-19 testing through private providers, which account for about 80 percent of total testing.

Increased testing could also help the county move toward a less restrictive tier of California's blueprint for a safer economy, a framework that places counties into colored tiers based on their test positivity and adjusted case rate. The case rate is adjusted based on testing volume.

San Mateo County is in the red (substantial risk) tier, after moving from the most restrictive purple tier on Sept. 22.

— Bay City News and Patch Editor Gideon Rubin contributed to this report

This article originally appeared on the San Mateo Patch