County tightens Covid-19 testing order for healthcare providers

Failure to comply could result in fines for hospitals

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Santa Clara County on Sept. 16 expanded its existing Covid-19 testing order to tighten up requirements for large-scale healthcare providers to ensure testing is more easily available, without delays to all residents.

Public Health Officer Sara Cody issued the revisions to the Healthcare Provider Testing Order—initially enacted June 10. County officials said private healthcare providers are not doing enough to make Covid-19 testing more available.

“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,” Cody said.

Elected officials from throughout Santa Clara County—including Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine and Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco—are calling on large healthcare providers to comply with the testing order that was revised Sept. 16.

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. Providers who fail to comply with the testing order may be subject to fines, according to county staff. 

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, according to county staff. The average number of tests from the most recent reporting week (Aug. 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 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, county staff said in a press release. 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 cities in Santa Clara County have spoken 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 Board of Supervisors Cindy Chavez. 

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.

Covid-19: By the numbers

As of Sept. 15:

World: 29,391,667 cases; 930,700 deaths

U.S.: 6,590,827 cases; 195,386 deaths

Santa Clara County: 19,613 cases; 283 deaths

Morgan Hill: 572 cases

Gilroy: 1,382 cases

San Jose: 12,983 cases

As of Sept. 1:

World: 25,587,737 cases; 852,851 deaths

U.S.: 6,068,139 cases; 184,450 deaths

Santa Clara County: 17,465 cases; 248 deaths

Morgan Hill: 501 cases

Gilroy: 1,162 cases

San Jose: 11,582 cases

COVID-19 CASES IN SOUTH COUNTY

Morgan Hill 

July 14: 162

July 21: 194

July 22: 213

July 29: 251 (rate per 100,000 population: 572)

Aug. 3: 278

Aug. 10: 341

Aug. 12: 348

Aug. 20: 428

Aug. 31: 497 (rate: 1,133)

Sept. 1: 501

Sept. 15: 572

Gilroy 

July 14: 323

July 21: 414 

July 22: 453

July 29: 524 (rate per 100,000 population: 944)

Aug. 3: 615

Aug. 10: 804

Aug. 12: 815

Aug. 20: 967

Aug. 31: 1,152 (rate: 2,075)

Sept. 1: 1,162

Sept. 15: 1,382

San Martin 95046

July 29: 47 (rate: 780)

Aug. 3: 50

Aug. 10: 56

Aug. 12: 57

Aug. 20: 67

Aug. 31: 78 (rate: 1,295)

Sept. 1: 80

Sept. 15: 100