For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 03, 2020
Team approach to accelerate progress in flattening the curve
San Rafael, CA – Medical service providers and health care facilities in Marin County must provide COVID-19 coronavirus testing to patients by September 25 to help eliminate the disease’s spread, according to a new order issued September 3 by Marin County Public Health.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer, said the new requirement is being done to increase county-wide testing capacity and ensure timely testing for those who need it the most.
The local order strengthens a trend of increasing testing among Marin’s health care providers and follows a series of federal and state requirements for providers to provide testing. On July 17, the California Department of Managed Health Care classified COVID-19 testing as a medically necessary health care service, requiring health plans to offer members who are essential workers or those with COVID-19 symptoms testing within 48 hours. On August 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began requiring nursing homes to test staff and offer testing to residents for COVID-19. An increasing number of counties in California and the Bay Area are issuing public health orders to support the goal of increased health care system testing capacity.
Marin’s order specifies that patients who meet state criteria for testing must have access to testing through local medical providers and health care facilities. The testing may take place at the medical office, at a specified clinic, or a testing center operated by a pharmacy or commercial laboratory. Where applicable, the medical providers should seek payment from patient health plans but not charge patients for the testing service.
As of September 2, more than 70,000 COVID-19 tests had been performed in Marin, and approximately 4,000 cases had been detected. The majority of tests were provided by Marin County Public Health.
“Less than 2% of our community has been diagnosed with COVID-19, meaning that the vast majority of us are still susceptible to infection and serious illness,” Willis said. “With the promise of a vaccine still months away, we need to commit to sustainable, widespread testing.”
Willis said the virus is easily transmitted among those who are either asymptomatic or those with mild symptoms, and there can be a substantial delay between being infected and showing symptoms.
With more routine testing of residents occurring through health care providers, Marin County Public Health testing resources will be targeted to virus hotspots for rapid and comprehensive field testing to control outbreaks.
“We’re fortunate to have an excellent health care system in Marin, and having more medical facilities doing testing will allow the County to really focus on the highest-risk scenarios,” said Benita McLarin, Director of Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS). “With more teamwork across providers and a strategic blanket approach, we can prevent further spread and save more lives.”
With the new order, there are also changes to the County’s partnership with Burlingame-based health technology company Color, which on July 23 took over the drive-through coronavirus testing at the Civic Center in San Rafael. The Civic Center site will be available only through referral by a health care provider. Online test scheduling for the public remains available for the testing site located in San Rafael’s Canal area. Public Health has more information online about local testing opportunities.
To monitor Marin’s progress on curtailing the spread of COVID-19, check the surveillance page on the Marin HHS website.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website