Fresno County orders all primary care doctors to provide COVID-19 testing

Testing for coronavirus is coming to your Fresno County doctor's office soon, or at least to somewhere else easy to access.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Coronavirus testing is about to be a lot easier to find in Fresno County and it could help businesses stay open.

"It most certainly benefits the community in terms of people knowing who to contact and where to go," said Dr. Rachel Yankey, a primary care physician at St. Agnes Medical Center.

A new health officer order will require primary care doctors to provide COVID-19 testing for their patients.

Testing for coronavirus is coming to your Fresno County doctor's office soon, or at least to somewhere else easy to access.

Fresno County health officer Dr. Rais Vohra is issuing an order requiring primary care doctors to give tests or figure out a convenient way to get it done within 24 hours.

"Hopefully that will really help with the turnaround times, will help get patients the answers they need in order to make decisions related to their work and their life, and hopefully increase our testing rates as well," Dr. Vohra said.

Easy testing is important, especially with the state using the number of tests as a factor in whether counties move between tiers of its "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" deciding whether business sectors open or close.

More testing could mean more businesses get to open, expand capacity, or just stay open.

And Dr. Vohra says the local medical community supports the idea.

"We're trying to give them all of the resources and information they need to succeed with doing this," he said.

"A lot of what happened early on when the outbreak started -- because of shortages in supplies and testing and those infrastructure that have been bolstered up since then -- people didn't know where to go to be tested," said Dr. Yankey of St. Agnes. "So more people were not tested and so there was more spread in the communities."

The swabs and testing kits are more widely available now, so primary care doctors can help the county meet testing goals and give patients peace of mind.

And a lot of health centers were already prepared.

At St. Agnes, patients might get a virtual visit from a doctor who's at the main hospital, but if they want testing, they'll go to another St. Agnes site seven miles west on Herndon Ave.

They'll get tested without ever leaving their car and find out quickly if they're infected.

Identifying cases quickly helps public health officials with contact tracing and limiting the spread of the virus.

Doctors say it's especially important to make testing and tracing easy as flu season gets started because hospitals always see more patients needing beds, so the system could be easily overwhelmed.
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