County urges all to get tested for Covid-19

Low numbers at Gilroy site

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LESS INVASIVE Covid-19 testing officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib demonstrates a new testing procedure for the virus. Photo via Santa Clara County Public Health Facebook

The response to the Covid-19 testing site at Christopher High School has been minimal in the two weeks since it has opened, but county officials hope those numbers will rise in the coming days as they urge everyone to get tested.

According to Santa Clara County Public Health, a total of 70 people registered at the South County site in the first week, far below its capacity of 130 people a day.

“The Covid-19 testing site at Christopher High School in Gilroy is new and we are looking to increase our early numbers,” health officials stated in an email. “The site was specifically chosen to provide additional testing possibilities for those in South County.”

The site, which was announced May 4 and opened May 6, is operated through a partnership with OptumServe, a health services business, and managed by the State of California.

Testing is by appointment only, and will be open from 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday.

To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-634-1123 or visit lhi.care/Covidtesting.

Officials are conducting outreach to bring awareness to the free testing site not only in Gilroy, but throughout the county.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib was recently hired by Santa Clara County as its Covid-19 testing officer. Fenstersheib retired in 2013 after 29 years with the county, including 19 as health officer. He resigned in late April after four years as San Benito County’s interim health officer.

Fenstersheib said the county is focusing its testing efforts on those who are asymptomatic. Frontline workers, or those who have frequent contact with the public, are urged to get tested at least once a month.

“We want to find people who may not be showing evidence of the disease,” he said during the county’s daily video update on May 15. “You could be infected and still be spreading the virus. If you do that, then you could be putting others at risk, you could be putting coworkers at risk, you could be putting family members at risk.”

Fenstersheib said the county will be introducing a new type of testing procedure that is less “invasive” than the current method. Those being tested will be handed a swab that they can administer themselves by placing it about a half an inch in each nostril and circle about four times.

“It’s very, very simple,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt, and it’s very fast.”

According to Gilroy Fire Division Chief Jim Wyatt, the last Covid-19-positive patient call in Gilroy was on May 14. However, the previous Covid-positive call in the city was 30 days before that, Wyatt said.

Since the beginning of March, the Gilroy Fire Department has responded to 57 patients exhibiting Covid-like symptoms, according to Wyatt. Of those 57 patients, 14 percent tested positive for Covid-19, 41 percent tested negative and 45 percent were not tested due to mild symptoms.

Wyatt said the department has seen a 30 percent drop in “Covid-like” patients in the past five weeks.

“Virtually all our Covid patients that tested positive were in the first five weeks of the pandemic,” he said. “Then we started seeing a drop in not only Covid-like symptoms, but also positive patients.”

Data from Santa Clara County shows 50 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the 95020 zip code as of May 19.

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