On Friday, December 17, officials announced that San Bernardino County is moving away from coronavirus testing clinics in favor of home tests.
On Friday, the district delivered its first batch of 1,000 over-the-counter test kits, with two tests each, to the Congregation of San Bernardino, organized for prophetic engagement. The nonprofit, which trains and supports local religious leaders, on Friday morning distributed 50 test kits to 20 congregations dominated by black churches.
“These test kits that are being provided by our district today… this is a game changer. People don’t need to leave their homes, you do the test yourself, ”Pastor Samuel Casey, COPE executive director, said Friday morning.
“This is a great opportunity,” Casey added, “especially now that we are seeing a surge in rates in our particular community.”
COVID-19 cases are on a rising trend since Thanksgiving, state and county data show. The daily average of new cases for the seven-day period ending November 30 was 398. Two weeks later, the daily average for the seven-day period ending December 14 was 535. Meanwhile, the county reported the first confirmed case of the omicron variant. for the last week.
The district plans to deliver more kits to other non-profit organizations for distribution to the public, officials said.
The move to home testing is a shift in the county’s COVID-19 response, a reallocation of funds that were used for county testing clinics, and a reorientation of efforts to place testing in the hands of residents, officials said.
“We have test sites all over the county, but it’s very expensive to keep them up and running,” said Kurt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
“The cost we do per week is quite high to have all these test sites,” he added. “And it is very unpleasant to see that I have 17, 18, 20 employees there (at the landfill), when we have 12 people come during the day.”
Home testing will allow those nervous about the county government knowing their COVID status to do so privately.
“This should remove some stigma from those who think we are collecting data about them,” Hagman said.
He added that residents can “get tested on their own in their own home with their own results.” “And you don’t need to report anything” to the district.
“It will be different for our people, who are still asking questions with the right or wrong motive,” said Bishop Calvin Simmons, president of Inland Empire, African American churches. “The correct motive is” I want to be responsible for how I get tested. ” The wrong motive is to try to exclude yourself from the process. “
But with home kits, Simmons says residents can find out if they have the virus minutes before work or worship.
“It will add livelihoods to many religious organizations,” he said.
I work for COPE in San Bernardino, where the county distributes the first 1000 home tests for COVID. The district will provide more funds to nonprofits in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/L4JFc3DTFS
– Bo Yarbrough ⌚🐕 (@ LBY3) December 17, 2021
The district reports that the tests give results in just 10 minutes. Individuals over the age of 14 can do their own tests, and adults can help test children between the ages of 2 and 13. The district states that symptoms do not have to be present for the test, and those who test positive are encouraged to self-isolate. at home, avoid contact with other people and follow your doctor’s instructions.
“Testing continues to be a priority in San Bernardino County, and providing our non-profit organizations with resources to test COVID is another way to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in our community,” said Public Health Director Josh Dugas, according to a county news release. “As we enter the holiday season, we want travelers to have access to a fast, reliable, easy-to-use COVID test and can provide documentation of their results.”
Nonprofits can request COVID-19 tests by filling out an online form. Test kits will be available for distribution during the week of Monday, December 20th.
In the coming weeks, Hagman said, he hopes the district can either start distributing the tests to district libraries or even distribute them to residents at home.