SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Sacramento County has over 1.5 million residents, but the Public Health Department only has 50 COVID-19 tests available per day.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, causing both state and Sacramento officials to issue a "stay at home order" on Thursday, testing continues to be extremely limited, posing the question why there so few tests and how does one get tested?
"There's not enough tests available. That's the reality of it," said Dr. Tom Hopkins.
Many nationwide, including Sacramento County officials, are pointing the blame at the Center for Disease Control.
"It's limited by the fact the CDC was the initial responsible party of how we get testing at a local level and so we're continuing to wait on that," said Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna. "It's very frustrating."
In Sacramento County, testing is available in two places.
The first is the Sacramento Health Department Lab where those 50 tests from the CDC are being prioritized for medical professionals and the most vulnerable, like the elderly.
The other testing location is at private labs like Quest or Lab Corps but testing is limited and a doctor's note is required prior to being tested. Officials are hoping to work with private labs to help get more testing available.
Yuba and Sutter County currently have drive-thru testing in place. It's something Sacramento County hopes to start by next week.
But with limited testing comes limited knowledge of who actually had COVID-19 and if they're contaminating others.
"[Tests are] a numbers game," said Dr. Hopkins. "It's trying to figure out where the virus is and track it. It's really a tracking system than anything else."
With so few tests available in our area, public health officials believe the number of those with coronavirus is far beyond just the 45 confirmed cases.
"Oh, there is absolutely more than 45," said the Sacramento County Director of Health Services Dr. Beilenson. "I can guarantee there's probably 10, 20, maybe 100 times more."
That's why doctors and officials are urging people to stay home, rather than expose others to COVID-19 by trying to get a test.
"It's not just about the test. It's about the exposure and you don't want to expose other people to this condition because it is more deadly than the flu," said Dr. Hopkins. "The best thing is to stay at home and isolate."
Follow the conversation on Facebook with Andie Judson.
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