Testing for the coronavirus is continuing in Fontana and throughout San Bernardino County, but some residents are wondering: Why is it considered so important that tests be administered to everyone, rather than just for people who don't feel well?
Public health experts believe that many of the people who carry the coronavirus do not know it, since they exhibit no symptoms of the disease (referred to as asymptomatic carriers). As a result, hundreds of thousands of infected people could be unintentionally spreading the virus to others.
“Increasing the number of people tested is essential to lowering the infection rate, getting the county back to work, and allowing recently reopened businesses to stay open,” said San bernardino County Public Health Director Corwin Porter in a news release on July 31. “Testing gives us a better idea of community spread and the scope of infections, and helps us concentrate medical resources where they are needed most. And working in concert with our contact tracing team, we can better stop the spread of the virus.”
Expanded testing and lowering the positivity rate will help San Bernardino County get off the state’s Monitoring List and allow more flexibility in its reopening efforts.
Porter cautioned, however, that a negative test result should not be seen as permission to stop being cautious.
“Regardless of your test results, you still need to avoid gathering with people outside your immediate household,” Porter said. “You also should continue social distancing, continue wearing a face covering whenever in public, and diligent washing of your hands. Expanding our testing is an essential step in our war against COVID, but we’ve already seen what can happen if we relax prematurely.”
In fact, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has continued to rise sharply during the past two months in the county, and Fontana is one of the most affected cities.
That's why county officials, responding to a recent statewide shortage in COVID-19 testing materials, are pleased to have contracted with a new supplier to secure an adequate supply of test equipment.
“Now that our testing capacity has expanded and stabilized, we hope that every resident, regardless of whether they have experienced any symptoms, will make an appointment to get tested,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “Testing is free, painless, takes only a few minutes, and can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription.”
The county is now offering testing with an appointment at 10 locations, using an easy-to-administer nasal self-swab. Results can also be expected in no more than five days, but usually within 72 hours. There is no cost to take the test; however, county residents will be asked to enter insurance information when setting an appointment in order to assist taxpayers in recouping some of the costs associated with testing.
----- NEW SUPPLIER, IMPROVED NASAL TESTS
The county’s new supplier is Fulgent Genetics, a Southern California-based genetics testing company that provides diagnostic testing for improved patient care, the county said.
The company’s COVID-19 polymersace chain reaction (PCR) tests involve a relatively short nasal swab, which most patients consider much less uncomfortable than the longer “nasopharyngeal swabs” commonly used earlier during the pandemic. Fulgent collaborates with Healthvana, an HIPAA-secure information portal, to provide test results 3-5 days after testing.
In Fontana, testing is open to the general public, by appointment only, at the Jessie Turner Center, 15556 Summit Avenue, Monday through Friday.
Other testing sites have been established by the county in Hesperia, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino and Victorville, along with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. In addition, tests (and other services) are provided to underserved and vulnerable populations at county health centers in Adelanto, Hesperia, Ontario and San Bernardino.
In addition, COVID-19 testing is being conducted at various state-run testing sites, as well as sites operated by private clinics, certain Rite-Aid Pharmacy locations, and HMO-operated facilities. State sites and private clinics may be using providers other than Fulgent, and testing methods vary at these other locations. Residents are encouraged to visit the county's testing sites webpage to see all the county, state and private testing options, and to schedule an appointment.