You’ve gone online. Your answers to the Verily questions about your fever, symptoms, and known contacts are worrisome enough to the algorithms to grant you approval to get tested. Now what?
First, put on a mask or face covering, get in the car, and head to Lot D at Cal Expo. There's a security guard at the entrance who will ask for identification and a confirmation number. Don’t put them away. You’ll need them again, and again, and again.
After a maze of white plastic barricades, there are three check-in stations where you show ID and your confirmation number. Again. Then, you pull into a dark gray building with security guards and other employees in orange vests and masks waving you to the left.
There, you’ll see three stations, each staffed by two people in baby blue gowns, white gloves, white face masks, white head coverings and clear face shields.
Two nurses are assigned to each of the three stations where patients are tested from a car for COVID-19 at Cal Expo on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Jim Austin might be one of the people to greet you once you've turned the car off. He's a retired nurse practitioner who's helping out after a career in infectious diseases. He says 80 percent of the people come through like it's no big deal.
Then, there's the other 20 percent.
"I've had a couple burst into tears when I was just getting ready to take the sample. I had somebody grab her boyfriend's hand and I thought she was going to crush his arm. But she did calm down and we were finally able to get the sample,” Austin said.
He recommends simply leaning your head on the steering wheel with a couple of deep breaths to relax.
The county opened its only mobile testing site March 24. At first, there was a trickle of cars, but the county says it is now seeing between 280 to 350 people per day.
A swab up the nose and the coronavirus test is over. Austin says it'll make your eyes water, but the pinprick of a blood test hurts more.
The swab kits are provided by Verily Life Sciences, a company under the Google umbrella, and go into a cooler, which is picked up by Quest Diagnostics, the company that processes the tests.
Nurses at Cal Expo put on personal protective equipment for a drive-through testing center in Sacramento Wednesday, April 15, 2020.Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
The county says between 5 and 10%of the 2,700 people who have come to Cal Expo since the site opened have tested positive for COVID-19. The county doesn't track results by where a test was taken, but does track age, race and ZIP code.
If you have gone through the online process and were denied a test, Jamie White says you can try again. She's the Incident Commander for the Public Health Department Operations Center.
"Verily has also slightly modified some of their algorithms and so folks who were turned away earlier are encouraged to go back on and see if they do meet the screening criteria now,” White said.
She says 78 percent of the people who have been approved for testing actually show up at Cal Expo to be swabbed.
The medical personnel taking the swabs are in full personal protective equipment, but the rest of the staff working 50 to 100 feet away are not. Sacramento County Health Officer Olivia Kasirye has not ordered people to cover their faces, but it's still a possibility.
“We want to make sure the masks are available in the places where we need them, which is the health care facilities and the long-term care facilities,” she said.
As of Wednesday morning, 853 people had tested positive in the county, and 32 people have died.
Folsom Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), Clark Shueh, is ready to direct cars at the COVID-19 drive-through testing at Cal Expo Wednesday, April 15, 2020.Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
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