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Santa Ynez Valley is lacking testing sites

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Public Health says rapid COVID tests are reliable but officials highly recommend a PCR test.

At-home tests are currently unavailable at PHD health care centers.

On Jan. 2, the health department told us that "we are at this point because the demand outpaces the supply."

According to their website, there are testing sites in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara, but there remains a gap between north and south counties.

Rapid tests range from $100-$150 depending where you go.

For Danielle Sosa, a Santa Ynez Valley resident, at-home tests were not reliable as she picked up the virus -- along with her granddaughter.

“I ended up going to the ER," said Sosa. "We did two at-home tests about six hours before that and those tests came out negative.” 

After she visited the emergency room?

“Within five minutes of their testing they said you both have COVID.”

Luckily for Danielle, who is a patient at the Indian Health Clinic in the valley, she was able to test her family, but other cannot say the same.

“A lot of people who don’t have insurance, a means of transportation, that’s why it’s spreading is because you have no resources,” said Sosa.

The closest site was the American Medical Response Central Training Center in Buellton, but it closed because the county saw a decrease in people getting tested.

And they said this before the holidays: “Fewer people with COVID, fewer people with symptoms, fewer people that are exposed to someone with covid so there’s a significant decrease in the need for testing,” said Matt Higgs of SBCPH.

So people are finding other strategies.

“It’s really difficult, I mean a lot of people said they called 211,” said Sosa.

While some are using social media, but not everyone.

"If you're active on it, great, if you aren't then well, you don't get to know about it, right?" said a source who did not want to share their name.

Local urgent cares seem to be the best method, but more tests are on the way, according to SBCPH.

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Reed Harmon

Reed Harmon is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Reed, click here.

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