Berkeley offers free COVID-19 tests to all residents and workers with symptoms

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Nurses Miniimahe and Megan prepare a patient for testing at the West Berkeley test site. Photo: Pete Rosos

Anyone who lives or works in Berkeley and has symptoms of COVID-19 can now call the city to request an appointment for testing, the city announced on Wednesday.

These symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, chills, repeated tremor with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of smell, said Dr. Lisa Hernandez on Wednesday , health official at Berkeley, in a prepared statement.

Community members can call the testing hotline by calling 510-981-5380 to speak to a Berkeley Public Health nurse. The tests will be scheduled on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the facilities of the city of West Berkeley. Children with symptoms at least 2 years old can also be tested.

“This expansion is part of the City’s efforts to put in place tools that interrupt the transmission of COVID-19, which leads to a wider relaxation of the rules relating to shelters on site. Testing, contact tracking, isolation and quarantine are all essential to limit the spread, “said Hernandez. Previously, the city’s testing efforts had focused on vulnerable community members and essential workers.

On Wednesday, the city released the results of more than 1,300 COVID-19 tests on its new data dashboard, which went online this weekend. This figure includes results for Berkeley residents who have been tested in the city as well as elsewhere. Berkeley has so far had a positive rate of 5%, which is lower than that of many other jurisdictions in the region. However, this may change as further tests are performed.

On Wednesday, Hernandez urged anyone with their own health care provider to call this person first “because capacity has increased significantly in recent weeks.” Your provider will always be the source of any follow-up or advice. “

The tests do not prevent infection with COVID-19, which has no medical treatment or vaccine, wrote Hernandez.

“A test is just a snapshot over time. Symptoms develop 2 to 14 days after exposure, ”she said. “The best protection for COVID-19 is for everyone to take shelter on site and, when outdoors, wear a face covering while standing at least six feet from someone else.” We know that people can be infected anywhere in our community with this easily transmitted virus. COVID-19 is spread through seemingly harmless acts, such as speaking without covering your face to a friend within six feet. “

Berkeley Public Health staff will alert anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and provide information on self-isolation.

“Many, if not most, will have mild symptoms and be able to take care of themselves at home,” Hernandez wrote.

There will also be an investigation, including contact tracing, to locate other people who may have been exposed. As part of the investigation, staff will determine who may need to isolate to see if symptoms develop.

“These acts prevent the spread,” said Hernandez. “And this is essential work as we enter the future phases of this pandemic.”

To date, the general shortage of testing in most locations has provided an incomplete picture of COVID-19 infection rates.

“As the city, region and private providers all test more, we will learn more and be able to tailor our response,” said Hernandez.

As of Wednesday, there have been 60 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkeley and one death. Forty-three of those who fell ill have recovered.

Editor’s note: Also on Wednesday, the state of California announced a new website where people can find nearby test sites. Information about the purpose of the new card is posted on the state’s public health website.

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