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Challenges Hamper Area COVID Testing

As California endures another lockdown due to surging COVID-19 infection rates and area hospitals are facing strained ICU resources, testing availability has become a challenging obstacle to tracking the infection.

While many local places offer testing, availability is typically limited to appointment-only, which have been hampered by resource availability.

Oak Valley Hospital offers local testing by appointment only and must be accompanied by a physician referral.

Modern Urgent Care offers local testing: walk-ins without insurance must pay $249 for the test; those with insurance must use the online portal to make an appointment but the system has been locked up for weeks.

CVS offers self-testing strips by appointment but currently their website is showing no availability in this area.

A Modesto-area clinic offers walk-in testing with a cut-off of 40 tests per day, starting at 8 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With more people needing testing, Project Baseline offers community members another option that’s fast, free, and efficient — as long as you don’t mind participating in clinical research. The local drive-thru testing site is at the Salida Library, 4835 Sisk Road, Salida.

According to their website, Project Baseline is an initiative to make it easy and engaging for people to contribute to the map of human health and participate in clinical research. “Together with researchers, clinicians, engineers, designers, advocates, and volunteers like you, we’re collaborating to design the next generation of healthcare tools and services,” the website notes.

Project Baseline was founded by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet focused on life sciences and healthcare. They partner with organizations like Duke University School of Medicine, Stanford Medicine, and their sister company Google to make clinical research opportunities more accessible. Project Baseline efforts began in 2017 with the Project Baseline Health Study.

As a Project Baseline member, people have the option to share information related to their health with Project Baseline, including self-reported data, data recorded by mobile devices or other sensors, and electronic health records. Participants may also have the opportunity to provide other medical information with their additional consent, for example biospecimens or data recorded by medical devices.

The Baseline COVID-19 Program was established as part of California’s community-based testing program under the direction of the California Department of Public Health. The Baseline COVID-19 Program is a connected and secure solution to support individuals from screening through testing and receipt of their test results, which is done under physician direction. Unlike a simple digital screener, this connected solution enables follow-up with individuals who are screened for future testing based on changes in screening criteria. This program has already screened thousands of individuals in California and is expanding to other states. The Baseline COVID-19 Program is collaborating with other healthcare partners to expand access to testing.

According to Stanislaus County Public Health, testing for COVID-19 is recommended if one of the following criteria is met:

·         If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including fever, chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, or new loss of taste or smell;

·         If you were in close contact (within 6 feet for over 15 minutes) or think you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19;

·         If you work in an environment with high risk for exposure, such as a hospital or medical clinic, long-term care facility, homeless shelter or prison, factory, or farm;

·         You work in an occupation where you are frequently in contact with the public, including jobs such as first responders, teachers, personal caregivers, housekeepers, construction workers, food service/restaurant workers, gas station and grocery store workers.

For more information on Project Baseline, go to