Testing ramping up in Mariposa CountyFree Access

When it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic, one thing is certain: it’s a fluid situation.

Whether it’s new positive cases being announced, new recommendations from health experts or a new Stage being initiated by government officials, the situation changes quickly.

Because of the rapidly-changing nature of the situation, Mariposa County Health Officer Eric Sergienko has been giving weekly updates to the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors. He did so again on Tuesday morning.

Sergienko started by updating the board about the number of Covid-19 cases in the county.

“As you know, we had a total of 15 cases in the county. All of those cases are currently out of isolation. We have no one in quarantine, we have no active management of cases or contacts,” he said.

He said there have been a total of 725 individuals tested in the county. Aside from the 15 positive tests, all have been negative, but 57 tests are pending.

There has been one Covid-19 death to date so far in Mariposa County. There are no hospitalizations at the moment tied to Covid-19 in the county.

He said a total of close to 100 people were signed up to be tested on Tuesday at the local test site, located on Silva Road at the former Mariposa Middle School.

That site is open to the public for free testing.

“Kudos to everyone who has been sharing the message and getting it out on social media. It is free and there is free transportation,” said Sergienko.

To sign up for a test, visit Lhi.care/covidtesting or call (888) 634-1123 for more information or to make an appointment. Testing officials ask for insurance information, but the state is paying for any deductible, so there is no cost to anyone getting tested.

Sergienko was asked by supervisor Rosemarie Smallcombe about the safety of the testing site, and what “potential reassurance” she could give to older, at-risk people who want to be tested.

Sergienko assured her it was safe to be tested there.

“There is one-way flow through there. There are screens everywhere to block transmission of droplets. We know people who are most at risk are what we call close contacts — so within six feet for 10 minutes or less,” Sergienko said. “The way that the one-way flow through the gymnasium is such that you’re never going to be within six feet of anyone but the staff that is testing you. They are in appropriate PPE so they won’t transmit it to you.”

He said all who visit the site must wear a mask “while in that space” of the facility.

“From a risk reduction standpoint, they have done everything they can” to ensure a person going in there will not be exposed to the virus, Sergienko said.

Sergienko also said there are hand washing stations available before entering and after leaving the site.

“They’ve thought this through fairly well,” he said. “I’ve gotten tested twice. Between trip one and trip two, it’s gotten more efficient.”

Sergienko said for individuals “who don’t have close contact” with others, getting tested once for now “is probably” fine.

“We’re encouraging healthcare workers, first responders and other public safety to do it every two weeks. That’s based on the incubation period,” he said.

Smallcombe then shifted the conversation to Yosemite National Park, as it gets closer to a potential reopening.

“As we move forward with opening the park under the guidelines that Superintendent (Cicely) Muldoon has laid out, what is your vision as to the testing that might occur for the park service and Aramark employees who will have that kind of personal contact with visitors?” she asked.

Sergienko replied: “We tried to get OptumServe to move up there. That seems to be outside their scope of contract. I’m going to be re-engaging with the state this week to see what we can do in terms of mobile testing options.”

Sergienko said the clinic in the park can do up to 30 tests a day, with an approximate turnaround time of three to four days.

“That’s an option. I think it would be better if we can get a mobile testing site up there once a week, to do a large scale amount of testing,” he said. “That would be more efficient. It would also free up the clinic to do primary care.”

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