Sonoma County Expands Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing

Maggie Fusek

SONOMA COUNTY, CA— County officials announced Thursday that drive-thru testing site operated in Santa Rosa by the Department of Health Services Disease Control Unit is being expanded to include testing for five groups of high risk and vulnerable community members: health care workers with or without symptoms; first responders with or without symptoms; symptomatic people older than 65; symptomatic people with underlying health conditions; and all essential workers, with or without symptoms.

"Having these options for testing puts us well on the way to our goal of 600-800 tests per day," said Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. "This expansion is part of a plan for a safe, gradual reopening in Sonoma County."

First responders are those who provide 24/7 emergency response, first-aid care, or other related assistance either in the course of the person’s occupational duties or as a volunteer and include. Examples of first responders include: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and emergency response social workers.

Essential workers include: grocery store workers, in-home supportive services — or IHSS—caregivers, construction workers, utility workers, childcare providers, and anyone who has continued to work in an essential function under the county's shelter-in-place health order.

Testing is offered free for people within the five groups and there are three testing options. Appointments are required for all tests.

One option is the drive-thru testing, which is offered at the Sonoma County Public Health Laboratory, 3313 Chanate Road in Santa Rosa. To make an appointment, call 707-565-4667.

The second option is at state testing sites operated by OptumServe, a health services contractor for the state of California, in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. Appointments for the Santa Rosa and Petaluma sites can be made online at Lhi.care/covidtesting. People without internet access or who need to make an appointment in a language other than English may call 888-634-1123.

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The county encourages anyone identified in the five groups who is experiencing coronavirus symptoms to seek testing and/or treatment through their medical provider.

According to the county:

— Testing is free and accessible regardless of immigration status;

— Currently, testing is not available for coronavirus antibodies; and

— The available tests are for active cases of coronavirus only.

"Community-wide testing is a critical step toward re-opening the County," Sonoma County Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said. "Expanded testing allows us to identify and increase our understanding of COVID-19 community spread. This includes collecting a broad sample of results, including data from those in specific groups and those who do not have symptoms. Upwards of 30% of people who test positive experience no symptoms, but can still spread the disease."

Currently, the county is conducting an average of 200 tests a day at the drive-thru testing site in Santa Rosa, according to County Spokeswoman Jennifer Larocque.

"The State started their testing sites with 260 tests per day total, and Dr. Mase recently reported that they’ll be doubling capacity," Larocque told Patch. "The County is also testing at high risk facilities like congregate care facilities, the jail and homeless shelters, in addition to testing for contact tracing. That is all on top of testing in hospitals or clinics."

Coronavirus Cases In Sonoma County

To date, there have been 286 total cases of coronavirus in Sonoma County, three of which resulted in death.

Here's a breakdown showing the number of cases per region as of 8 p.m. Wednesday:

  • Central County (Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Cotati) 176 / 62 percent
  • North County (Windsor and Healdsburg, north to Cloverdale) 23 / 8 percent
  • West County (Guerneville, Sebastopol) 17 / 6 percent
  • East County (Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Sonoma) 19 / 7 percent
  • South County (Penngorve and Petaluma) 40 / 14 percent

Symptoms that may warrant a COVID-19 test include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle ache, sore throat, headache, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, recent loss of taste or smell, or confusion, particularly in older adults.

Complete information about coronavirus in Sonoma County is posted at SoCoEmergency.org. Community members can also call 211 or text their ZIP code to 898-211 in order to text with a 211 operator.

Full coronavirus coverage: Coronavirus In California: What To Know

This article originally appeared on the Petaluma Patch