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COVID Surge: Besieged San Francisco Bay Area County Launches Door-to-Door Coronavirus Testing Program

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — To help curtail the surge in COVID-19 cases, Santa Clara County has ramped up its testing effort, including sending out teams door-to-door to administer coronavirus tests.

The county Public Health Department said Thursday the teams will focus first in East San Jose where 55% of the population is Latino and where many do not have the ability or means to get tested.

Santa Clara County is partnering with neighborhood health workers known as promotoras to hand out tests in hard hit areas of East San Jose where language barriers and fear have stood in the way of testing access.

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"Going door to door, the promotoras will offer self-administered COVID testing to individuals in the household," explained Dr. Analilia Garcia, Racial & Health Equity Director for Santa Clara County.

"The plan is to canvass the area before arriving," Garcia went on to say. "So families know to expect us, and that this is a legitimate service."

Health officials have been seeing huge numbers of COVID cases on the Eastside and county-wide, Latinos have made up a disproportionate amount of COVID cases and deaths compared to their population.

Meanwhile it's full throttle at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose on Thursday, where part of the challenge now is preventing backups on site. As of Thursday there is also an emergency testing intervention offsite.

"We have significantly expanded our testing capacity," said nurse Lindsay Kehl at the County Fairgrounds site. "We have seen an increase in people needing to come out to get tested, so we increased to 5,000 people a day. That's what we're capable of doing right now."

Staffers at the Fairgrounds testing site are also reminding those who decide to undergo a test here should get an appointment beforehand.

"It very much slows us down if you don't have an appointment," Kehl told KPIX 5. "And it prevents us from testing the number of people that we could otherwise test if we had everyone coming for an appointment."

On Wednesday, county health officials confirmed a record 1,700 new cases and reported that three South Bay hospitals had reached ICU capacity. The county also reported 76 new hospitalizations and three additional deaths on Wednesday.

San Jose Regional Medical Center was already at capacity as of Wednesday morning. Santa Clara County health officials confirmed that two other hospitals, O'Connor Hospital, and St. Louis hospital, had filled all available ICU beds.

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