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COVID-19 testing to increase in California by the end of the month

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 20:59:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California has fallen behind when it comes to COVID-19 testing, but Gov. Gavin Newsom is promising to drastically increase the numbers of tests per day by the end of the month.

"We want to get to 25,000 by the end of this month and then significantly increase those numbers by multiples in May and June," he said in his daily briefing.

He said there will be an update provided about testing on Wednesday.

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According to The COVID Tracking Project, which collects COVID-19 testing data from across the United States, on April 19 California reached 250,500 tests statewide.

Here in San Diego County from March 13 to April 19 there were 33,904 COVID-19 tests reported.

Dr. David T. Pride, the Director of Molecular Microbiology at UC San Diego Health said right now supply is greater than demand when it comes to COVID-19 testing at UCSD Health.

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"We're capable of about 1,000 tests a day, we opened a second laboratory specifically for COVID testing, and if we were to start using that laboratory we could be up to 1,600 tests a day," he explained. "It's not being used because the demand is not there."

Pride said right now UCSD Health is only giving about 300 tests per day, even after loosening restrictions on who can get tested.

Early on, many Californians who believed they had the virus were denied tests in order to preserve the tests for people in the high risk categories.

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"We really relaxed our criteria significantly," he said. "The one thing that we're not testing is asymptomatic people."

Pride said the exception is asymptomatic people who had known exposure to COVID-19.

Because the supply of tests exceeds the demand at UCSD Health, the institution is now looking to help others.

"There's several different institutions right now that we are taking on their testing," he explained. "We are a place that right now has the testing capacity, could be doing a lot more tests, and are willing to negotiate and talk with other folks out there who are in need of testing to see if we could perform the tests for them."

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He said UCSD Health is also looking into the possibility of testing people in nursing homes as well as the homeless population.

Another important step is serology antibody testing, a blood test that can detect if you were exposed to the virus and developed antibodies. Pride and many other experts say, those test remain difficult to interpret.

"It's a good indicator of whether you've been exposed to the virus in the past, it's not a good indicator of whether you have the virus right now," he said.