Ventura County opened up several drive-thru coronavirus test sites Thursday as the number of confirmed cases went up to 13 countywide.
Residents can drive up to seven testing sites outside different urgent care centers throughout county, including at Sierra Vista Family Medical Clinic in Simi Valley, the Academic Family Medicine Center in Ventura and Las Islas Family Medical Group in Oxnard, according to Dr. Theresa Cho at Ventura County Medical Center.
But not everyone who arrives at the sites will be tested.
Since supplies are limited, COVID-19 testing is reserved only for those who are in “critical need,” according to Ventura County Public Health.
That includes people with a fever and cough or shortness of breath who are hospitalized with severe lower respiratory illness or organ failure, as well as healthcare workers, firefighters, law enforcement personnel and those who were at locations where clusters of coronavirus cases were reported, according to the county’s COVID-19 testing criteria.
The person being tested wouldn’t have to leave their car and a swab would be taken depending on their answers to a series of questions about their symptoms and travel history.
Health officials have advised those who have symptoms of a respiratory illness and want to know if they can get tested to call their health provider before heading to a hospital or emergency room.
Test results are usually expected within 24 hours, according to Cho.
As testing is expanded, health officials expect a rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Ventura County’s public health lab, which was one of the first 11 county labs in the state to be certified to perform coronavirus testing, runs the tests for hospitals and emergency rooms.
Before that certification, testing had to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and it took up to a week to get results back, Ventura County Public Health said in a news release.
Federal officials on Sunday promised that more than 2,000 commercial labs nationwide will be performing coronavirus tests with new high-speed machines by the end of the week, increasing the country’s testing capability amid reports of insufficient test kits and mounting criticism that the U.S. didn’t respond to the outbreak fast enough.
South Korea was the first country to set up drive-thru screening centers with the ability to test thousands of people every day. As of Thursday, the country had tested over 290,000 people, while the U.S. — with more than six times South Korea’s population — had tested about 82,000, according to figures from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the COVID Tracking Project.
Of the 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Ventura County, at least five are believed to have been a result of community transmission.
Ventura County officials ordered all bars, nightclubs, wineries, breweries, gyms, theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and live performance venues throughout the county to close for two weeks starting Wednesday.
The county also ordered all residents aged 75 years and older to shelter in place at their homes until April 1. Those 70 and older who suffer from chronic health conditions were also ordered to stay at home.
People under the shelter-in-place orders can only go outside for food or medicine, or if they work in health care or government, according to the public health order.
Health experts have emphasized that those 65 and older, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions can experience more severe symptoms if they are infected with the virus.