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SLO County Public Health expands coronavirus testing to those with mild symptoms

Posted at 11:49 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 02:49:55-04

People who may have been turned away from getting tested for coronavirus before are now able to get tested for the disease in San Luis Obispo County.

This comes as the public health department has updated its testing guidelines.

As healthcare providers learn more about how COVID-19 can present itself, new information shows more people should be getting tested.

The county says the more tests that are done, the better picture we'll have of how much this disease is in our community.

"We'd like to understand if, indeed, what we are seeing -- that ten-percent of all tests are showing positive -- is that truly a sign that there is much more other respiratory disease than this disease continuing in our county or are we just not capturing all the people with mild ones?," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer.

Dr. Borenstein says everyone who thinks they might have COVID-19 symptoms should now get tested for the disease.

"We think that the public has ceased even trying to get a test because early on the message was there's not enough tests, there's not enough tests. We believe everyone in this county who wants to get a test can if they go to the right place," Dr. Borenstein said.

New coronavirus testing guidelines include healthcare providers not needing to screen for other illnesses and mild symptoms like runny nose and sore throat are now being considered.

People without any symptoms still cannot get a test.

"We're really asking our provider community and urgent care centers to keep doing what they're doing -- to test as much as they can and to not be dissuaded by people with even these lesser symptoms," Dr. Borenstein said.

San Luis Obispo County pediatrician Dr. Rene Bravo took time during the press conference Monday to remind parents that children and teens should be monitored for symptoms as well.

"If your teen or child is sick then please get them tested as soon as possible. Gratefully, children are less susceptible to serious complications but they still should be tested," Dr. Bravo said.

The county says priority for testing will still be given to healthcare and EMS workers and the more serious cases.

To find a testing site near you, click here.

The county believes its testing has been on track with the amount of testing happening in neighboring Santa Barbara County.

Officials say between the health department and other healthcare providers within the county, there are enough tests for now.