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California coronavirus testing: Is it finally getting easier to get a test? Here is what we know

UCLA's Brian Bowland at work in a laboratory.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Is testing for coronavirus finally beginning to pick up?

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said answer is yes. The state saw a 20% increase in testing in just one day as more labs come online.

The stats

12,600 People tested in California
3,215 Test results pending
598 Positive tests

Swab issues

Newsom said expansion is being impeded by a shortage of specimen swabs and other components needed for the testing kits supplied by the federal government.

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“We made it crystal clear to the federal government that we need to procure more swabs so we can do specimen samples, not just the diagnostics on the back end. We’ve been saying this now for weeks that these kits are not necessarily all complete,” Newsom said during a Wednesday evening briefing. “I think we need a bit more transparency about that. But nonetheless, our capacity is increasing. But supplies can become increasingly challenging.”

More labs

Newsom said that more testing laboratories are expected to go online in coming days and weeks, both at hospitals and private testing companies, such as Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp.

A new Google-related website that will enable people to assess whether they need to be tested, and schedule a test, also is expected to expand, Newsom said. The pilot site is part of Project Baseline, a health- and-disease-tracking initiative operated out of Verily, one of Google’s sister companies under the Alphabet umbrella.

Verily’s coronavirus program began in the Bay Area and could soon expand to areas such as Sacramento and Riverside, as well as other communities, Newsom said.

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“Verily’s site has a wonderful Q&A that determines people’s eligibility. It can calm a lot of nerves as it relates to symptoms, and we do an analysis and a score to prioritize people for those tests,” Newsom said. “It’s a wonderful platform that we hope to scale all across the state.”

More cases

Officials said they are racing to get more coronavirus testing done so they have a better sense of how many people have the virus. In the meantime, they are urging people to stay home to avoid spreading the virus and overwhelming hospitals.

As more people are tested, the number of patients increases rapidly. As of Thursday morning, there are 892 cases and 17 deaths in California, according to The Times tracker.


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