Six Bay Area coun­ties demand virus test­ing data

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Fiona Kel­li­her fkel­li­[email protected]­yare­anews­group.com

Seven Bay Area ju­ris­dic­tions have de­manded that aca­demic, com­mer­cial and pop-up labs re­port all COVID-19 test­ing data, in­clud­ing negatives, to health au­thor­i­ties as they at­tempt to track the fast-spread­ing virus across the re­gion.

On Tuesday, Alameda, Con­tra Costa, Marin, San Fran­cisco, San Ma­teo and Santa Clara coun­ties, along with the city of Berke­ley, which has its own pub­lic health department, an­nounced a new or­der that man­dates all labs to re­port test results for all res­i­dents to both the health care provider and county of­fi­cials.

Re­quired data in­cludes all pos­i­tive, neg­a­tive, and in­con­clu­sive results, along with iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion like pa­tients’ names, gen­ders, ages, phone num­bers, ZIP code and preg­nancy sta­tus, ac­cord­ing to the San Ma­teo County or­der.

“If we have both the pos­i­tives and negatives, then we can have the de­nom­i­na­tor of who’s be­ing tested, where we have hotspots,” said Santa Clara County Health Of­fi­cer Sara Cody Tuesday.

In­di­vid­u­als’ con­fi­den­tial health data would be shared with of­fi­cials through a sys­tem known as CalREDIE and kept pri­vate.

Health of­fi­cials have been ham­pered by a lack of data when it comes to track­ing the grow­ing pan­demic, in­stead re­ly­ing solely on the num­ber of pos­i­tive tests — which paint a woe­fully in­com­plete por­trait of the virus’s reach.

That’s made it dif­fi­cult for pub­lic health de­part­ments — par­tic­u­larly in Santa Clara, which has recorded 16 deaths and 375 cases as of Tuesday — to ad­e­quately trace vi­ral clus­ters. Ever since the county recorded its first case early this year, com­mu­nity spread was al­ready abun­dant, Cody told this news or­ga­ni­za­tion ear­lier this week.

But without clear in­for­ma­tion about how many peo­ple have been tested through com­mer­cial labs like Quest and Lab­Corp now com­ing online, as well as pop-up sites in Santa Clara and San Ma­teo coun­ties and the city of Hay­ward, of­fi­cials lag far be­hind in ba­sic data.

Of­fi­cials may not even know the ex­tent of labs that are con­duct­ing test­ing, Cody added, not to men­tion de­mo­graphic data about who ex­actly in the Bay Area is be­ing af­fected.

“That’s re­ally, re­ally imp in­for­ma­tion ev­ery­one agrees we don’t have right now,” Cody said.

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