San Diego County public health officials reported 419 new cases of coronavirus on Monday and announced that tests would be prioritized for those people most a risk because of a nationwide shortage of supplies.
Priority for testing will be limited to people with symptoms and those in high-risk groups, including older adults, those with chronic medical conditions, healthcare workers, first responders and people living in group care facilities.
“This is a nationwide challenge. We were doing quite well in terms of testing throughout the community up to the point where a limitation in supplies resulted,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, at a media briefing.
Supervisor Greg Cox and the county had been averaging over 8,000 tests a day before a surge in cases nationwide led to the shortage. To keep testing locations open, the county is working with San Diego genomics startup Helix to perform up to 2,000 tests a day with a 24-hour turnaround.
Cox said the Helix tests would “help stabilize our supply chain, but we must remain careful. As a result, we will be modifying our testing approach a bit to focus more on priority groups.”
Marc Stapley, chief executive officer of Helix, said his company’s background in population genomics allowed the scientific team to quickly create a fast coronavirus test.
“We intentionally built our lab from the ground up to be able to be highly automated and scalable, making it a unique fit for the ever growing demand of COVID-19 testing,” said Stapley.
The results reported by the county on Monday came from 6,542 tests with a positive rate of 6.4%. The 14-day rolling average of positive tests remains at 6.0%.
There were no additional deaths from COVID-19 reported.
Since the first local case in March, there have been 443,206 tests administered in the county, resulting in 20,348 cases and 422 deaths.
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