SAN DIEGO — Coronavirus testing is quickly becoming more available in Southern California.
Mobile coronavirus testing sites will soon be popping up around San Diego. Residents will be able to drive up to the open-air testing sites created by One Medical, a membership-based primary care organization that started by offering 24/7 virtual care and is now testing for coronavirus.
San Diegans who want to be tested must first call ahead and speak with a clinician, who will then determine if a coronavirus test is needed based on their symptoms.
Once approved for a test, patients can then go to a drive-thru site to begin the testing process, which takes about five minutes to complete. Test results are available within three to five days.
Natasha Bhuyan, the regional medical director of One Medical, says there are a number of reasons why making tests more available to Californians is important. “Countries that started testing early and broadly were able to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 because public health officials were able to do contract tracing and self-isolate.” Bhuyan said. Giving people the knowledge of whether or not they have tested positive can also help them make plans for elderly family members or other at-risk individuals who rely on them.
“We think that it’s important to get tested, so we encourage people to reach out to us if they have questions,” Bhuyan said.
State leaders are also exploring antibody testing, which is not currently available at One Medical but is becoming increasingly available at local medical offices. Antibody tests involve a simple finger prick and provide results within 15 minutes. Taking this test can reveal whether or not an individual has had coronavirus — whether they were symptomatic or not — and whether or not they have recovered.
According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the antibody test could be the key to getting Californians back to work, though the accuracy of the test is still under review.
“If we’re able to open up that research and know who’s infected, that can actually impact what our mortality rates are,” Bhuyan said. “Our mortality rates may be lower than we realize because a lot more people might have been infected but had a milder infection and recovered. Any information we can get about COVID-19 is useful because it’s just so new.”