Elected Officials from across Santa Clara County call upon large healthcare providers to increase COVID-19 testing; more testing is necessary to protect the public

County of Santa Clara logoOn Sept. 16, Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued revisions to the County’s June 10, 2020 Healthcare Provider Testing Order, tightening requirements on large healthcare providers to ensure testing is more easily available and without delays to all residents of Santa Clara County. Elected officials from across Santa Clara County, including 10 partner city mayors, are calling upon large healthcare providers to comply with the revised testing order. The Order is a legal requirement for large healthcare providers such as Kaiser Permanente, HCA Healthcare, Sutter Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and other private hospitals in Santa Clara County, which are subject to fines for noncompliance.

“Our county is currently trending in the right direction, but additional testing is imperative for our community to effectively respond to COVID-19, and we can only get there as a community if our large healthcare providers do their part too,” said County of Santa Clara Health Officer and Director of Public Health Dr. Sara Cody.

While large healthcare systems provide care to the majority of residents in Santa Clara County, the County’s own Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has handled the bulk of the testing. The average number of tests from the most recent reporting week (August 31-Sept. 6) is as follows: County of Santa Clara Health System (13,072), Kaiser Permanente (4,261), Stanford (3,243), Sutter Palo Alto Medical Foundation (1,426), El Camino Health (679), HCA Healthcare (633).

“The testing order requiring large healthcare systems to provide COVID-19 testing to essential workers and others has been in place since June 10, but we have been forced to take additional measures,” said County of Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams.

Increased testing is critical to ensure that everyone who is infected and might be spreading COVID-19 knows their status, takes care of their health, and protects others by staying away. Increased testing will also help the county stay in the State’s Red Risk Tier status or improve so more businesses, schools, places of worship, and other activities can move forward and open. The State’s framework can be found at: https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

Mayors from 10 of the County’s partner cities spoke in support of the new order. They include: San José Mayor Sam Liccardo; Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein; Saratoga Mayor Howard Miller; Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco; Mountain View Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga; Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine; Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine; Monte Sereno Mayor Liz Lawler; Los Altos Mayor Jan Pepper; and Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran.

“This is the pathway to success in Santa Clara County. The more people who can easily get tested for COVID-19 by their healthcare providers the better chance we have to stay in the red tier or improve. That means more children get back to school and more people get back to work,” said President of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Cindy Chavez.

“The enhanced order will ensure that large healthcare providers inform their patients, remove barriers to testing, and increase access so that our community is safer,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian.

The Order requires certain healthcare providers within the county to offer COVID-19 diagnostic testing to symptomatic persons, persons who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case, and all “essential workers.” Examples of “essential workers” include teachers, healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, and persons who work in agriculture or food manufacturing.

The Order can be found at https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/public-health-orders.aspx.

A video archive of the media conference can be found at https://www.facebook.com/sccpublichealth.