In an effort to make COVID-19 testing more accessible and help get a handle on surging cases, at-home saliva test kits will soon be available to residents in two cities that have been hard hit by the pandemic, health officials announced Tuesday.
By next week, community clinics in Santa Ana and Anaheim, two cities that have seen a large number of coronavirus cases, will be offering 11,000 COVID-19 test kits for residents to pick up and then test within the comfort of their home, county officials said during a news conference.
While the first batch of 11,000 test kits are reserved for those in Santa Ana and Anaheim, officials said another 500,000 test kits will be available for all Orange County residents in December.
“We want to drive down the numbers so that way on the average the county’s numbers will go down and hopefully we can work our way out of the purple tier at some point,” Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said.
The test kit only collects saliva and does not require residents to swab their nostrils. For those who are not comfortable going out in public, the at-home test kits can also be mailed to residents who request one.
If the specimen is placed in the mail by 1:30 p.m., lab tests results will be available within 24 hours, according to Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s health officer.
With Thanksgiving and other holidays quickly approaching, county officials said residents are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test.
“By making testing accessible and convenient, we would like you to work testing into your holiday celebration practice,” Do said. “Meaning if you are going to see your grandparents or family in general, two or three days before you go you should take a test, the result will be available within 24 hours.”
Residents are also urged to take another COVID-19 test two or three days after the gathering.
As of Tuesday, the county had reported 65,957 cases of COVID-19 and 1,526 deaths.
Orange County had been in the second-least restrictive red tier since Sept. 8. After Monday’s rollback, it has until midnight to make changes needed in order to comply with the new order.
Under the purple tier restrictions, the following sectors are permitted for outdoor operations only until further notice: restaurants, places of worship, gyms and fitness centers, cardrooms, satellite wagering, family entertainment centers (such as bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, kart racing, and arcades), movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, playgrounds and recreational facilities and wineries.
Bars, pubs, brewpubs and breweries may operate outdoors if they are offering sit-down, outdoor meals.
Business owners in downtown Orange told KTLA on Tuesday they were scrambling to move their services outside.
“Like everybody else, for the small businesses it’s just devastating. Everyone is just quickly trying to pivot and figure out what we got to do to get by, ” said Mike Hernandez, owner of 1886 BREWING in downtown Orange. “I’ve got about 80 employees and so they’re all depending on us to keep the doors open.”
K-12 schools that have not reopened for in-person instruction will have to remain online, county officials said, but those that had fully reopened prior to Monday for in-person instruction are not required to close.
The following sectors are open for indoor operations: all retail (maximum 25% capacity), critical infrastructure, hair salons and barbershops, libraries (maximum 25% capacity), nail salons and electrolysis operations, personal care services (such as body waxing, estheticians, tattoo, massage), professional sports (without live audiences) and shopping centers (maximum 25% capacity).
Both indoor and outdoor operations are required to maintain mitigation measures, including social distancing, face coverings and sanitization.