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Sonoma County Gazette
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Sonoma County encourages anyone who suspects exposure to someone with COVID-19 to get a test (in addition to all those with symptoms). Community-wide testing is a critical step toward re-opening the County. Image -

How To Decide If You Should Get a Viral Swab Test 

May 15, 2020


Ceylan Karasapan-Crow
Compiled from info via Sonoma County Emergency, CDC, UC Davis Health and American Heart Association News

The county is conducting free coronavirus testing for essential workers and at-risk populations, including adults 65 and older and individuals with underlying health conditions. You can also get tested if:    

    •  If you are working or planning to return to work soon, please come get tested. 

    •  If you are worried about getting someone in your house sick, come get tested. 

    •  If you have symptoms that concern you, like cough or fever, come get tested. 

    •   Even if you don’t have symptoms, it is still possible to spread coronavirus to others. 

You do not need health insurance or id. Visit   for more info. 

Testing Options in Sonoma County. Image: sonomacounty.orgAppointments are available on weekdays, and can be made at Residents without internet access can call 1 (888) 634-1123. Specific test locations and hours will be provided when making an appointment. Tests are free to the public. If individuals have insurance, their insurance providers will be billed. If individuals do not have insurance, they can still get a test. Please note there is not a drive thru option for these tests and participants will need to get out of their car to get a test.

Two state-funded testing sites in the county, open to everyone at Santa Rosa High School and the Petaluma Campus of Santa Rosa J.C. are currently processing 260 tests each day.  An additional drive-through site is currently open only to healthcare workers, first responders, high risk individuals, and workers in essential businesses. 

Case Investigation and Contact Tracing

The Department of Health Services (DHS) has expanded their system for monitoring cases and contacts by training a large medical/nursing pool and testing all contacts, whether or not they are symptomatic.

How is Testing for Coronavirus Done?

Collection of Nasopharyngeal Specimens with the Swab Technique

The Test is Fast and Simple watch here Gov Cuomo getting the test

Click on image to watch Gov Cuomo taking the test in public. Image: screenshot CDC YouTube channel - for COVID-19 involves inserting a swab (like a Q-tip) into the cavity between the nose and mouth (nasopharyngeal swab) for 15 seconds and rotating the swab several times. The swabbing is then repeated on the other side of the nose to make sure enough material is collected. It won’t hurt, but it might be slightly uncomfortable. The swab is then inserted into a container and sent to a lab for testing.



Gov. Cuomo taking the test. CDC YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your results

Positive Test: If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.

Negitive Test: If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection when your sample was collected and that you could test positive later. Or you could be exposed later and then develop illness. In other words, a negative test result does not mean you won’t get sick later. This means you could still spread the virus.

Why Testing is important

Community-wide testing is a critical step toward re-opening the County

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jennifer Andrews, 423rd Medical Squadron family health clinic element chief, clinical nurse and infection preventionist, poses for a photo as she holds a swab at a COVID-19 drive-up testing station. Image: Public DomainThe testing allows Sonoma County  to identify and increase understanding of the COVID-19 community spread. This includes collecting a broad sample of results from people with or without symptoms. We know that upwards of 40% of people who test positive experience no symptoms (asymptomatic), but can still spread the disease.

"When a communicable disease outbreak begins, the ideal response is for public health officials to begin testing for it early.

That leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated.

While we are obviously not in that ideal situation with COVID-19, testing remains critical.

It's crucial of course to help treat, isolate or hospitalize people who are infected. Testing also is important in the bigger public health picture on mitigation efforts, helping investigators characterize the prevalence, spread and contagiousness of the disease.

In comparison to China and South Korea, testing in the United States appears to have been insufficient for optimal early containment. And now we're seeing a rapid rise in hospitalizations that is overwhelming public health systems and clinical care systems.

Testing data will also help develop a full picture of the epidemiology and course of this disease. The data can provide important puzzle pieces for stopping or slowing the disease in the future." [American Heart Association News]

The importance of testing then CONTACT TRACING to help open up the economy

Contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.

Given the magnitude of COVID-19 cases and plans to eventually relax mitigation efforts such as stay at home orders and social distancing, communities need a large number of trained contact tracers. These contact tracers need to quickly locate and talk with the patients, assist in arranging for patients to isolate themselves, and work with patients to identify people with whom the patients have been in close contact so the contact tracer can locate them. The actual number of staff needed is large and varies depending on a number of factors including but not limited to:

    •  The daily number of cases

    •  The number of contacts identified

    •   How quickly patients are isolated, and contacts are notified and advised to stay home, self-monitor, and maintain social distance from others

Time is of the essence

Identifying contacts and ensuring they do not interact with others is critical to protect communities from further spread. If communities are unable to effectively isolate patients and ensure contacts can separate themselves from others, rapid community spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase to the point that strict mitigation strategies will again be needed to contain the virus. 

Who is a Close Contact?

Based on CDC's current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. They should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure. 

To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them.

Click on image to read or download COVID-19 Contact Tracing Details with graphics. source: principles of contact tracing

    •  Contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients with suspected or confirmed infection.

    •  In contact tracing, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious.

    •  Public health staff then warn these exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible.

    •  To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them.

    •  Contacts are provided with education, information, and support to understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed, monitor themselves for illness, and the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they themselves do not feel ill.

    •  Contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance from others (at least 6 feet) until 14 days after their last exposure, in case they also become ill. They should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for cough or shortness of breath. To the extent possible, public health staff should check in with contacts to make sure they are self-monitoring and have not developed symptoms. Contacts who develop symptoms should promptly isolate themselves and notify public health staff. They should be promptly evaluated for infection and for the need for medical care.

Communication with the public is crucial.

Engagement of the public with contact tracers must be widely accepted in order to protect friends, family, and community members from future potential infections. Key public officials and community leaders will need to be

engaged and supportive of contact tracing efforts. Consider reaching out to community leaders as part of the neighborhood-level contact tracing team. To be successful, a community will need public awareness, and understanding and acceptance of contact tracing and the need for contacts to separate themselves from others who are not exposed. Community members need to take responsibility to follow theguidance from public health agencies. [Contact Tracing Source : CDC ]

Download The Principles Contact Tracing booklet:

More info :


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