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South Bay leaders push for new COVID-19 testing due to increase cases

“The key to effectively containing the spread of the coronavirus disease is a game plan with three parts: Testing, Tracking, Treatment,” Mayor Sotelo-Solis said.

SAN DIEGO — The South Bay is being hit exponentially hard, that's why county leaders are taking several new steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis held a media briefing, along with other South Bay leaders, Wednesday to share how symptomatic and asymptomatic residents of National City can get tested, what resources are in the pipeline, and what local agencies are doing to strengthen T3 efforts (testing, tracking and treatment).

As of May 12, there were 238 positive coronavirus cases reported by the County of San Diego in the City of National City, placing National City’s percentage rate (for every 100,000 population) at 382%, which is the highest in the county and 4.7% of all the positive test results countywide.

After leading the charge with being the first in the county to require face masks in public settings, the South Bay leadership focused on how to work closely with the county to provide more testing in the South Bay communities. 

“The key to effectively containing the spread of the coronavirus disease is a game plan with three parts: Testing, Tracking, Treatment,” Sotelo-Solis said.

The following speakers were in attendance at Wednesday's briefing:

  • Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Mayor of National City 
  • Kevin Mattson, CEO, San Ysidro Health 
  • Neerav Jadeja, Chief Executive Officer-Paradise Valley Hospital 
  • Barbara Jimenez, Director, Central & South Regions, SD County Health & Human Services 

The county has announced that it intends to increase testing for COVID-19 to get a clearer idea of how far the disease has progressed in San Diego County. They intend to hire additional public health nurses, Promotoras/community health care workers and set a goal of testing 5,200 people per day. 

“High-risk” individuals include those who are 65 or older; have underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, a lung disease, or heart conditions; or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and live or work in high-risk settings, such as long-term care facilities.

For information on how to schedule a test, click here. If you are a parent/guardian registering on behalf of a minor please call 888-634-1123 to register for a test.

Priority Groups:

San Diego County is recommending several specific groups get priority for active infection testing, based on federal and state recommendations. Health care providers with capacity to do so can test beyond these priority groups. 

Priority 1:

  • Hospitalized patients 
  • Healthcare workers with symptoms 
  • Close contacts of people who are confirmed cases in high-risk settings, such as long-term care facilities 

Priority 2: 

People with symptoms who: 

  • Are 65 years and older 
  • Have underlying medical conditions 
  • Work in essential health and public safety jobs 

People without symptoms who:

  • Are entering group living sites such as long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, or drug treatment programs 
  • Are healthcare workers 

People with or without symptoms in other vulnerable populations:

  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • Those in rural areas
  • People who are non-white/non-Hispanic, and older adults

Priority 3:

  • Other essential workers with symptoms 
  • Other essential workers without symptoms, especially during public health investigations and disease control activities in high risk settings 

Priority 4: 

  • People with mild symptoms in communities with high numbers of COVID-19 infections 
  • Surveillance testing of individuals without symptoms 
  • Surveillance testing of non-COVID-19 deaths

These individuals are to contact their health care provider to discuss a course of action. If an individual does not have a physician to turn to, they can simply dial 2-1-1. If it's decided that testing is needed, they are free to seek testing at their "medical home," which for many residents of National City means Paradise Valley Hospital (PVH), San Ysidro Health or Samahan Health Clinic.

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