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The demand for testing in Sonoma County has increased 60 percent in the past month as cases of the highly transmissible delta variant soar.  

And local physicians like Dr. Jenny Fish have witnessed how hard it's been for patients to get tests promptly during this summer surge.

"I've had patients go to five test sights because they are so over capacity and the burden for how many people need tests and they are waiting three hours at a time," Fish said. "And just because the burden is so high they are turning people away."

Many of the patients she treats at a Santa Rosa community health center have lower socio-economic resources and less flexible working hours.

"The ability to get fast and accurate testing is essential to reducing disparities in COVID and reducing community spread," Fish said.

Because of this heightened demand, the County increased testing capacity 14-fold, to 14,000 a week, partnering with private companies for additional testing clinics. The partnered clinics will primarily provide PCR tests rather than rapid tests, because they are the most accurate for a-symptomatic people and those not receiving regular tests.

Vaccine Chief Dr. Urmila Shede said the demand for testing has also increased as employers institute vaccine and testing mandates. Shende said the State's testing taskforce offers additional assistance for employers.

"We will continue to pivot as we always do," Shende said. "We realize that the demands are really high out there and we are doing our best to try and accommodate that."

Fish said she feels a bit more optimistic since the increase in testing but worries about the delayed response.

"My main concern at this point is just that it's taking a long time, so we are missing a lot of opportunities in the middle of a surge," Fish said.

Fish said there will be accessible information about isolation, quarantine and financial aid resources at the sites.  


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