California has tested fewer than 9,000 for coronavirus. Officials hope to ramp up soon

Brian Bowland, senior clinical lab specialist in microbiology at UCLA Health. The University of California's five medical centers are gearing up to expand their in-house testing for COVID-19.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Weeks since the first coronavirus case in California was confirmed, fewer than 9,000 tests have been conducted throughout the state.

The lack of testing has made it harder to track the spread of the virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday he hopes the state can quickly ramp up testing in the coming days, with help from a Quest Lab in San Juan Capistrano, which is now conducting about 1,200 tests a day.

“That will substantially ramp up in the next week or so with the two additional [Quest] labs that will come online. We’ll get those tests just from that commercial lab up to 5,000 as much as 5,500, a day,” he said. “We are increasing our capacity on an hourly basis, not just a daily basis.”


A number of other hospitals are also doing tests.

“We are getting new kits in real time that are arriving,” he said. “So far, we’re in a good place. And when we need something, we are very vocal and very honest and forthright about what it is.”

Newsom said the state has been in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration about how to get more tests out. Current testing requires two swabs so that two specimens from each patient can be taken and tested for the virus. He said officials are looking into new protocols to conduct just one swab, thereby doubling the number of patients who can be tested, Newsom said.

“So those are ongoing conversations. They’ve all been very, very positive,” Newsom said about the state’s overall effort to work with federal officials.

Newsom on Sunday urged people 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves from others.

He also called on bars and brewery and winery tasting rooms statewide to close their doors to patrons as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state continued to rise.

The coronavirus in California has caused six deaths, with 335 confirmed cases.