The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department now encourages anyone who wants to get tested for the novel coronavirus to schedule an appointment at the three community testing sites in the county, regardless of whether someone is feeling symptoms.
Priority still will be given to people with symptoms, vulnerable populations and essential workers, but there is a higher daily testing capacity now, allowing for broader reach.
“The testing gives the individual peace of mind, and it does give the Public Health Department a better understanding of the true prevalence of virus infection in our area,” county public health officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said. “We do encourage people to get tested. It will help us to get a much better idea of how many people were in contact with the virus.”
The tests provided at the state-run sites — in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara — are covered by health insurance, or free if people have no insurance.
Ansorg said he was unsure whether an additional test would also be covered — in the situation where someone tests negative now but is tested again later.
“I would think if you are symptomatic and a doctor orders the test, it would be different,” he said. “It may vary from case to case.”
Appointments can be made online, at https://lhi.care/covidtesting, or by calling 888.634.1123. The three testing sites are at the Santa Maria Fairpark, Anderson Recreation Center in Lompoc, and Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.
Twenty new cases were reported Thursday, putting the county total at 1,540. Of those cases, 15 were reported among Santa Maria residents, three in unincorporated South County residents, and one case each in Santa Barbara and unincorporated North County.
Santa Barbara County received state approval Wednesday to open additional businesses, and Ansorg issued a modified Health Officer Order with local guidance.
“Lower-risk workplaces” allowed to open include some retail — including clothing and shoe stores — as well as dine-in restaurants, campgrounds and RV parks, according to the Public Health Department.
More information on economic recovery is available on the county website, RecoverySBC.org, and through the call center at 833.688.5551.