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Santa Clara County Distributes Free COVID-19 Antigen Tests in South Bay

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Santa Clara County handed out free at-home COVID-19 antigen tests on Saturday at multiple locations for people who live in and work in the community and signed up for appointment to receive up to four tests.

"Right now with the kids back in school, we're getting a lot of close-contact notices and it's really difficult even with what the school's offering to make it during the day," said Heather Ackard, as she sat in her car at a test pick-up site in Martial Cottle Park. "I've been looking on Walgreen's almost every day and trying to look at appointments and have myself prepared if we needed them."

County staff had appointments for people to pick up tests at Hellyner County Park in San Jose as well as Vasona County Park in Los Gatos and Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. The county announced Friday it had 60,000 tests available and appointments filled up quickly. Residents claimed all available spots through the final weekend of January.

"I want to be sure I have a test available for me and my kids to have tested at home," said Patricai Rodryguez, another mother in line picking up tests in her car. "Everywhere there is no appointment available and we have school and theater and that kind of stuff so we want to be sure in case of an exposure to have a test available for us."

Appointments were required and residents had to sign up online to get tests available for pick-up. The county said it has tests set aside for nonprofit organizations that help people who do not have access to the Internet.

"It wasn't that hard at all to go online to do this. Otherwise, ordering online, everybody is out of stock. It was really hard," said Tina Baleria, a county resident.

Antigen tests should be used if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or to end isolation periods early if someone has tested positive. For potential exposure cases, an antigen test can be used if a PCR test, which is more sensitive, is not available.

Many parents were in line at the Martial Cottle Park site Saturday morning but some teachers were also looking for another way to check their status while going in and out of classrooms.

"I wanted some at home so I wouldn't have to risk anybody if I had the symptoms at home and wanted to test before I went into school," said Amy Obenour, a teacher in the county. "To have it at home to test before I go into my classroom means a lot."

The county will try to get more antigen tests but reminds the public to try their health care provider if they need to get tested. PCR tests should be available from various health care systems and the county may have options for PCR tests at its own sites as well.

"It makes us feel so much more comfortable, especially with everything going up at our school, my daughter had half her class out, which was very stressful," Ackard told KPIX. "I got five close contact notifications for her so the poor thing got tested six times in one week."

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