The Alameda County Public Health Department has formed a COVID-19 Testing Task Force to develop and implement a coordinated testing program to address disparities, ensure countywide access, and support the County’s COVID response. We are mindful of public concern about COVID-19 testing and support strategies that help community members and critical infrastructure workers to make informed decisions about their health and that of their families.
Through increased coordination of existing testing capacity as well as public-private partnerships with cities, health care providers, and non-traditional providers, our goal is to reach 2,500 COVID19 tests per day countywide, with testing of all symptomatic individuals. This strategy is closely aligned with our overall COVID-19 response, which includes investigating every reported case, extensive contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, outbreak mitigation, and protecting high-risk individuals and health care workers.
In alignment with recently updated state guidance, testing priorities for the County’s Public Health Laboratory include:
- Staff and residents from long term care facilities,
- Health care personnel, first responders and essential infrastructure workers,
- People living in congregate settings,
- People experiencing homelessness,
- Contacts of reported cases, and
- People who are hospitalized.
We anticipate updates to our strategy to address changing needs across our County, as state and federal guidance is updated, as more resources become available, and as the epidemic evolves.
Our current strategy relies on nucleic acid-based COVID-19 tests as these have good and well understood performance and are increasingly available. At this time, serological (antibody) testing is useful for studies exploring the extent of the epidemic but remains unreliable for diagnosing infection and predicting immunity.