It opened on July 15, and Supervisor Andrew Do said at a press conference onsite, “We want to really emphasize that we are prioritizing individuals with symptoms, and those in a high-risk category. Right now, the testing really is emphasizing symptomatic, as well as high-risk individuals because of the nature of their work.”
First responders, senior living facility workers and residents, and those in the food industry are among those who will be given priority for testing. Patients must have an appointment to be tested.
For patients who are insured, their insurers will be billed accordingly, but others will be covered by the county, using federal funds.
Dr. Vanessa Ho of 360 Clinic told The Epoch Times the new testing site is very careful with accuracy in reporting. She said their lab partners use PCR testing, also known as nucleic acid-based testing, which is considered the gold-standard in COVID testing.
They also ensure that each person tested is only counted once, even if that person is tested multiple times. “How we trace them is a unique identifier. So, one person will be actually just one person, no matter how many times they get tested,” Ho said.
When that person’s test is entered in the system, it is marked with identifiers to trace it back to its source. And when that same person is tested again, it combines with his or her previous entry.
So, Ho explained, the ratio of tests to people infected will not be based on the number of individual tests done, but rather the number of people tested.
Earlier this month, county health officials said they made an error in counting tests, inflating the number of tests conducted about 30,000. The problem was that they included in the total counts serology tests, along with diagnostic tests.
Diagnostic tests tell whether a person is infected at the time of testing. Serology tests tell whether a person has developed an immunity to the virus in recent weeks, but they are ineffective in testing for current infection.
Officials say they have corrected the problem and that it did not affect the count of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
One of the county’s partners in operating the Anaheim Convention Center site is LabCorp, one of the largest clinical laboratories in the United States, with more than 30 locations. Swabs collected at the site are sent to LabCorp laboratories at the end of each day. Patients can expect to receive results within 24–48 hours.
“It takes more than a week sometimes to get a result and that’s presently not the case here, so I compliment those doing the testing and running it and making sure that you could get a proper result,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
Dr. Rachel Ngo, one of the 360 Clinic administrators, said on opening day “things ran smoothly.”
Patients go through three steps: sign in, receive a swab kit in a plastic bag, administer the test themselves. Nurses guide them on how to perform the swab on themselves in their vehicles. Once the swab is completed, they’re placed in a specimen sample bin and transported to LabCorp.
So far, Ngo told The Epoch Times, the majority of patients are between the ages of 40–60.
Do said it’s important to prioritize testing for people with symptoms, because “we don’t want a situation …. where we roll this out for widespread testing for asymptomatic non-frontline people, run short on tests, and then have to roll back.”
Prioritizing testing also helps ensure tests can be processed quickly. “That way you don’t get the results … 7 days, 10 days after the test, which in my opinion defeats the very purpose of doing the test, because 7 to 10 days out there, people can spread to a lot of people and they wouldn’t be able to quarantine,” Do said.
Some nurses have been concerned about being unable to get tested unless they are symptomatic, though they may have been exposed to the virus. A nurse at St. Joseph’s hospital in Orange told The Epoch Times that nurses there must fill out paperwork and clearly show symptoms before they are permitted to get tested or quarantine. The hospital has recently taken in a large number of COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Ho said it depends on the hospital as to whether staff are thus restricted. Donna Fleming, a public health consultant who spoke at the opening of the test site, told The Epoch Times that some nurses may not be able to get tested because of such policies, but “it’s definitely a priority group for any of the test sites; medical workers that are asymptomatic are perfectly appropriate to come in.”
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu encouraged the public to diligently wear masks and social distance to mitigate the spread of the virus. As of July 16, Anaheim had a total of 4,654 positive COVID-19 cases.
“We opened the economy, but now we are shutting down the economy,” he said at the press conference. “But we must start thinking, a positive way, how are you going to stop this. And this is the first way of saying widespread testing, and it is going to be very easy.”