SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — A free drive-up coronavirus testing program is coming to Sacramento on Tuesday thanks to Google's parent company Alphabet. The testing initiative called Project Baseline, is an effort by Verily Life Sciences to take a load off of government labs and hospitals by allowing people with mild symptoms to be checked.
So who is eligible? Sacramento County residents at least 18 years old who are experiencing moderate COVID-19 symptoms can fill out Verily's screener to check if they're qualified for testing.
The project's website says it is for those deemed in the high risk category by national guidelines and the California Department of Public Health "who may be exhibiting symptoms and have other risk factors."
"We are working to rapidly expand testing and will be updating the eligibility criteria once more tests become available," Verily's website said.
Officials with Verily did not respond when asked for the locations of the Project Baseline sites in Sacramento County.
More than 33,404 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and 400 people have died from the virus, making the U.S. third in the world for confirmed cases, behind China and Italy, according to the World Health Organization.
In Sacramento County, one of Verily's launch areas, there are 88 confirmed cases of the virus and four deaths, all of whom were people older than 70 with underlying health conditions.
The expansion of privatized testing will help ease some tensions at a time where hospitals nationwide are struggling to receive tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vacaville Police Chief John Carli said in a conference call with White House officials over the weekend that it's of utmost importance that first responders begin getting tested more frequently. and was quoted as saying in a conference call to White House officials set-up by the International Association of Chiefs of Police:
"Stop testing NBA players, start testing first responders," Carli said in the call. Several NBA teams have tested their players for COVID-19 after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive earlier this month.
The NBA's ability to test players quickly, as well as movie stars having access to tests, have made many wonder if testing is widely available for the rich who can afford the access.
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Still, Carli said he meant no offense to the players at all.
"In this particular case, if a test can determine that someone that might be exposed is not contagious, they don't have the symptoms, but they also aren't sure, they don't have to be sidelined 14 days," Carli said. "We need that first responder following good social distancing and hygiene to be in the field."
According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.
Should you be tested?
The California Department of Public Health has this set of criteria: You have coronavirus symptoms and have one of these risk factors:
- Have had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Work in a healthcare facility
- Are in prison or a first responder
- Are over 60 years old, have a compromised immune system, or have a serious chronic medical condition.
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