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SLO Co. Public Health urging people to test strategically amid limited supply

"Save your test for the right moment," public health officials say
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Posted at 3:16 PM, Jan 13, 2022

Demand for COVID-19 testing is up as cases surge on the Central Coast, yet testing supplies remain limited.

It's a difficult situation to be in, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein acknowledged.

On Thursday, the county's Public Health Department offered guidance to community members planning to test for the virus.

Their first recommendation? Strategically time your COVID test.

Whether you've traveled recently, been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or attended a gathering, health officials recommend a test on Day 5 following exposure for the highest accuracy. They add one caveat: if you are experiencing symptoms, test immediately.

Officials also urge people to make an appointment ahead of a test. Community sites are not all able to accommodate walk-ins during this winter surge. Officials also recommend choosing an appointment at an alternate site if your preferred location doesn't have availability right away.

Emergency rooms are not the place for routine testing, officials say. Those who feel normal or experience only mild symptoms should test elsewhere. Officials say you can experience long wait times and may encounter others who are sick. Additionally, you may cause delays in care for those facing more severe illness.

Officials say community members should avoid fraud while seeking out a COVID test, noting that you will not have to provide a Social Security Number to get tested. No-cost community testing sites provide tests whether or not you have insurance. If you're buying an at-home test, confirm that it is FDA-approved.

Once you test positive, health officials say you should isolate right away.

Similar advice is in place for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated.

"Quarantine immediately and get tested on Day 5 after your last exposure," Thursday's advice from officials reads.

Officials ask those who use at-home tests to report positive tests on the county webpage.

Finally, officials say you should stay home if you are sick—whether you have tested positive or are awaiting testing availability.

"My heart especially goes out to those who need to find a scarce test in order to see their loved ones," Borenstein said in a release on Thursday. "Our advice right now is about making the most efficient use of testing so you can protect your loved ones and get back to work or school when you are well."

Four no-cost community testing sites are open in San Luis Obispo County: in Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Tests are also available through local pharmacies, doctor's offices, at the SLO County airport clinic and via FDA-approved at-home testing kits.

Recently, county-run sites have been performing about 7,000 tests each week, officials say. Morro Bay will be able to offer more tests beginning the week of Jan. 17.

To set up a testing appointment, visit San Luis Obispo County's COVID-19 testing page.