WILLITS, 5/12/20 — Mendocino County will be getting an OptumServe testing unit sometime in the next two to three weeks, raising its total testing capacity significantly, and creating enough testing capacity to meet the governor’s standard of daily tests for counties to further reopen. The testing site will be “state sponsored” and implementation will be overseen by CEO Carmel Angelo.
Governor Newsom teased the news in his daily press conference at noon today, at which he noted that he was working closely with local officials to make sure that there were no “testing deserts” in California, and specifically named Lake and Mendocino counties as places where the dearth of testing would soon be remedied. Then this evening the County of Mendocino announced via tweet that OptumServe would be delivering a testing unit, and thanking State Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood for their work requisitioning the testing. Other details were confirmed by Supervisor Ted Williams, and a press release from the McGuire’s office sent out earlier.
This increased testing capacity most likely gives Mendocino the ability to conduct 135 tests per day, meeting the requirement of 1.5 tests per 1000 people per day set by the state. As currently structured, the governor’s stages of reopening require that certain benchmarks and capacities be met before counties can move forward with the next phase of reopening. Specifically, while the state as a whole has moved into “stage 2,” stage 2 itself contains gradations, and moving further into stage 2 requires an attestation process, which demonstrates that a locality has the capacity to deal with the almost certain surge in COVID-19 cases, and that the virus has been relatively well contained.
Attestation of this capacity and control will, among other things, allow for modified indoor restaurant dining to resume. As Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan explained earlier today in her report to the Board of Supervisors, Mendocino had met all the criteria — including no deaths due to COVID in the past 14 days and no more that 1 new case of COVID per 10,000 people in the past 14 days — save for having sufficient testing capacity. Given that the testing capacity requirement has been met Public Health will now be guaranteed to be able to submit the attestation paperwork.
At the supervisors’ meeting today there was substantial back and forth, between both the health officer and the board, and between board members, as to the timeline for submitting the attestation documents.
The governor announced the partnership with OptumServe back on April 22, and the company has been providing mobile testing units, as well as other capacity. Indeed, it is unclear at present from the limited information provided by the tweet, what form the testing capacity will take — whether it will include a testing machine, or whether it will consist primarily of additional testing materials (swabs and reagents) along with a promise or contract at a nearby lab to perform some number of submitted tests. Details will no doubt be forthcoming in the morning.
In a brief conversation by text Supervisor Williams stated that he believed an updated public health order would be issued the last week of this month.