Five COVID-19 testing sites in Sacramento to close down due to supply shortages

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — What were hundreds of tests a week in Sacramento County months ago have become 16,000 coronavirus tests a week.

But the county is about to take a step backward because of two key shortages.

“It’s the test tube and the liquid in the tube that is used to collect the viral test and take it to the lab. That’s called the transport media and the transport tube that there is a shortage of,” explained Sacramento County Health Services Director Dr. Peter Beilenson.

Dr. Beilenson said as a result, the county will have to shut down five testing sites that are run with the help of the University of California, Davis. Those include sites in Natomas, Land Park, South Sacramento and North Sacramento.

The sites at Cal Expo and St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Park will continue testing because they are run through a different supply chain.

When asked who is to blame for the shortages, Dr. Beilenson told FOX40 it’s a complicated answer. Ultimately, however, he said the responsibility lies in the hands of the federal government.

It all means there will be about 1,000 less tests per week.

Beilenson said the county has been looking for more help through a company called Quest Diagnostics but they are already maxed out on how many tests they can provide. Plus, that option comes with a major disadvantage.

“Takes eight to nine days turnaround, which, in many ways, is not terribly useful, obviously, because as people are well aware now if you test positive, you isolate for 14 days,” Beilenson explained. “So, if you test positive let’s say three days after you have the virus and you don’t get the test results back for eight or nine days, you might as well not have gotten tested.”

Each of the five testing sites to close only provide that service one day a week.

The county said testing at the Natomas site will be able to continue as planned one more time on Tuesday. After that, without more supplies, it will close like the others.

The Sacramento County Health Services director also said that while the supply is sufficient at the moment, there may be a shortage of testing swabs on the horizon.

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