MENDOCINO Co., 4/6/20 — Mendocino Public Health and Adventist Health (which operates Howard Hospital, the Ukiah Valley Medical Center, and will soon take over the Coast Hospital) will soon begin conducting “surveillance testing,” that is, the testing of asymptomatic people in the hope of more accurately identifying the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The tests will focus on the “frail elderly,” the homeless and people who work with those populations.
All previously testing in Mendo has been done on people who were already showing symptoms, including the four confirmed cases.
One of the most vexing things about the coronavirus pandemic as it has unfolded in the United States is that a dearth of tests have resulted in uncertainty over just how many people are infected with the disease, when, and where. For a great many people COVID-19 has mild symptoms, and can even be asymptomatic — and beyond this many people may be asymptomatic for some days while still “shedding” the virus and spreading the disease.
These facts about the virus in conjunction with a nationwide shortage of tests for the virus, and the complete absence of other kinds of testing protocols that were deployed in East Asia have meant that widespread identification of the infected has remained elusive.
The new step of treating asymptomatic people in Mendocino County will be valuable in assessing the actual spread of the virus and thus the danger to posed by those essential workers who remain in the work force, and by all of us when conducting essential activities.
The county also released this short video
Here is the press release from Mendocino Public Health:
County Public Health Partners with Adventist Health Ukiah Valley for Targeted COVID-19 Testing
Post Date: 04/06/2020 8:05 PM
Mendocino County Public Health, in partnership with Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, and with the Public Health Regional Lab in Sonoma County, will be conducting focused testing (formally known as ‘surveillance testing’) for COVID-19 in vulnerable populations. Surveillance testing is a tool used to look for asymptomatic people who may be infected with COVID-19 and to identify if undetected community spread is present in Mendocino County. The surveillance testing will focus on those who are experiencing homelessness, the frail elderly, and individuals who serve those populations as well as others.
“We want to ensure that COVID-19 is not silently circulating in our county,” said Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan. “Many of our county’s most vulnerable residents, who are at high-risk of developing serious complications if they get COVID-19, are currently living in congregate environments like shelters, or on the streets. Offering free testing to these groups can go a long way to evaluating the COVID-19 risk to our County now.”
“It’s important that we reach out to our homeless population and provide access to care, especially to the most vulnerable. We believe it’s part of living our mission and we’re happy to partner with Public Health in reaching out to the community wherever they need us,” explains Jason Wells, president of Adventist Health for Mendocino County.
The focused Covid19 sampling will occur at Plowshares Peace and Justice Center in Ukiah, because it’s an essential business that provides food, and other necessities for economically disadvantaged and vulnerable populations including those experiencing homeless, elderly and medically compromised.
Focused testing of vulnerable populations is an important step to understand if COVID-19 is circulating undetected in specific populations, and to respond by providing isolation and quarantine if any persons with COVID19 infection are identified.
All testing that has been done thus far in Mendocino County has been targeted to symptomatic people who had illness consistent with COVID-19 and were evaluated in the primary care clinics and hospitals and other clinical settings in the County. Of the 295 tests done, 4 patients tested for COVID-19 were positive.