Kings County announces increase in COVID-19 testing on May 4 with new community site

By The Leader Staff
Kings County announces increase in COVID-19 testing on May 4 with new community site

Kings County will launch a COVID-19 testing site beginning  May 4. The move comes after Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement of adding more than 80 community testing sites across the State focused on underserved communities.

The Kings County Department of Public Health, as of Friday, has not announced the testing site expected to begin operations Monday. Kings County will release additional information when appointments become available.

According to the KCDPH, testing will be by appointment only through OptumServe, a federal government health services business branch of Optum, a leading health services innovation company.

OptumServe has extensive expertise in rapidly deploying and setting up health care services. It works closely with the military under the leadership of former Army Surgeon General and retired Lieutenant General Patty Horoho, RN. 

“This testing site will help Kings County dramatically increase testing needs for individuals who have had limited access to COVID-19 tests up until now,” said Edward Hill, Director of Kings County Department of Public Health. “We’re thrilled to partner with the State and OptumServe to help ensure our communities are healthy, while also helping meet California’s testing goals.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, as of April 29, California has tested 625,337 persons. The numbers come from commercial, private, and academic labs, including Quest, LabCorp, Kaiser, University of California and Stanford, and the 22 state and county health labs currently testing.

The State looked at both rural and urban areas where Californians would have to travel between 30 and 60 minutes to reach an existing testing site or hospital. Locations were evaluated and selected to ensure underserved populations have access to testing regardless of socioeconomic status.

Transportation to the COVID-19 testing site may be available through residents’ managed care plans. Additionally, Kings Area Rural Transit (KART) will provide support for Kings County residents living in rural locations that lack access to reliable transportation. More details will be released as they become available. 

“OptumServe is honored to assist California in expanding COVID-19 testing for residents,” said Patty Horoho, CEO of OptumServe. “We are bringing our full commitment and capabilities to serve Californians, including extensive experience conducting large community health events.”

Optum, according to health officials, has deep experience in standing up large health events. Last year through Optum Serve, more than 2.9 million health services to 350,000 National Guard and Reserve members were performed across the country, including through 162 events in California.

At maximum capacity, OptumServe will support up to 80 testing sites at one time throughout the state, increasing total testing capacity by more than 10,500 tests per day.

"Thanks to Kings County and to OptumServe for the collaboration to make these testing sites possible," said Charity Dean, M.D., Assistant Director of the California Department of Public Health. "We're working together as part of the state's Testing Task Force to ensure regions with the greatest need have access to tests, and these sites are going to be a major component in reaching our testing goals."

Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon was upbeat about the additional testing. "A state testing facility will help to provide comfort in knowing who is infected with COVID-19, so our community can move towards opening businesses soon and getting lives back to normal."

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