SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A dramatic rise in demand for COVID-19 testing has prompted San Luis Obispo County to make a change in criteria for those that wish to be tested for the virus.
"We are no longer in a situation where we can continue to say, anybody who wants a test can get a test," said San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. "People who are going onto our website and looking at community testing locations are seeing that we are now about a week out before you can get an appointment."
On Wednesday, at the county's weekly COVID-19 press conference, Borenstein said the county is now implementing new parameters in its testing process.
"Anyone with symptoms should absolutely feel free to go to either their private physician, as a first stop, or urgent care," said Borenstein. "Many of them are testing, and we're going to be updating that information on who continues to test."
She also mentioned testing remains active at the various community sites, including in Grover Beach and San Luis Obispo.
"Other high risk categories that individuals should continue to seek out a test is if you work in a high-risk environment, particularly industries an awful lot of people in the public that you are interacting with," said Borenstein. "High-risk environments, essential workers, utility workers, grocery workers, food supply workers, public employees, first responders, healthcare workers, etc."
Borenstein also emphasized anyone that works in a congregate care setting should also be tested if the need arises.
"That's a high priority group who we want to see testing on," said Borenstein. "When we see any case in persons who live or work in that setting testing positive, we will do rapid-fire testing of the entire facility as one of the means of controlling the outbreak."
The list of congregate settings Borenstein mentioned include: homeless shelters, correctional facilities, residential care facilities and dormitories.
With the change in protocol, it means people who are not experiencing any symptoms are being asked to refrain from receiving a test.
"Asymptomatic people, we are asking to save what is becoming for a decreasing resource for the in these highest risk categories, and those with symptoms, and to defer testing if you don't fall into one of these categories," said Borenstein.
She added a growing concern is that some people with reservations are not showing up.
"We have started to see an awful lot of no-shows and that is just using up an important resource for people that are waiting more and more days to get a test, so please do cancel an appointment if you have one," said Borenstein.
County testing sites this week are located at San Luis Obispo Veteran's Hall, and Ramona Garden Park Center in Grover Beach.
Next week, a pop-up clinic is scheduled at Dana Elementary School in Nipomo, from July 13-16.
For more information on COVID-19 testing, visit ReadySLO.org