The Sonoma County Department of Health Services is now offering BinaxNOW “rapid” antigen testing at all DHS testing sites beginning July 7. The tests enable those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to get preliminary results indicating their COVID-19 status in just 15 minutes.
“As restrictions ease, we are seeing an increase in infections,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County Health Officer. “This increase is the direct result of increased interactions between groups of people, especially among unvaccinated individuals coming together at large events, such as weddings and graduation parties. While Sonoma County testing sites continue to use PCR tests to make final determinations about COVID-19 status, BinaxNOW is an excellent tool to assist in making quick decisions about isolation and quarantine while waiting for the PCR result.” ”
BinaxNOW is a simple, self-administered nasal swab that does not require the deep probing of earlier tests. After taking a preliminary antigen test, community members will be asked to take a PCR test to confirm their COVID-19 results. PCR tests remain the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing, and results are usually available in 48 hours or less. Those who are experiencing symptoms are asked to isolate themselves until they get definitive results from the PCR test. If the PCR test is positive, county health workers can help residents locate resources to help navigate the steps necessary to keep family, friends and the community safe. These resources include emergency financial assistance, food and meals, and mental, legal, and senior services available from non-profits.
The County has partnered with Federally Qualified Health Centers to provide testing to residents in the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19. Since September, more than 28,000 tests have been administered at county pop-up testing events targeted at these populations. Including all public and private health partners, Sonoma County has remained at or ahead of the state average of tests per capita, administering over 754,00 tests since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We have made great strides. Of those 12 years and older, 67 percent are fully vaccinated and another 8 percent are partially vaccinated. That still leaves 25 percent unvaccinated,” said Dr. Mase. “Testing remains crucial, especially for those who have not yet chosen to get a vaccine. The Delta variant is an increasing area of concern, and we continue to urge all community members to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
County residents can currently choose to get PCR and “rapid” tests at eight Santa Rosa DHS testing locations:
Mondays: Center for Spiritual Living at 2075 Occidental Road
Tuesdays: A Place to Play Park at 2375 W. 3rd St., Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at 1671 Hendley St., and Coddingtown at 1000 Coddingtown Center
Wednesdays: Rincon Valley Park at 5108 Badger Road (use the Montecito Boulevard entrance)
Fridays: Andy’s Unity Park at 3399 Moorland Ave., Bayer Farm at 1550 West Ave., and Galvin Park at 3330 Yulupa Ave.
All sites are open from 9:30 a.m-11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted or you can make an appointment at sonomacounty.fullslate.com.
With recent changes to COVID-19 restrictions, there has been some confusion over when to get tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing for those:
Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 whether they have been vaccinated or not.
In close contact with someone who has COVID-19, unless they are vaccinated or have tested positive in the last three months.
Who are unvaccinated and have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19, such as travel, attending large gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings. Who work for employers, such as health care facilities, that require routine screening.
For more information about testing, visit socoemergency.org/test. For vaccine information, visit SoCoEmergency.org/vaccine. Resources and information can also be accessed by calling the County COVID-19 hotline at 707-565-4667.