A Salinas Valley Covid-19 test site that was seeing a low number of visitors is coming to the Monterey Peninsula beginning Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Seaside High School, 220 Noche Buena St., Seaside.
The site, operated by the company OptumServe under contract with the California Department of Public Health, will offer free tests from 8am-8pm Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Originally in May the state opened two OptumServe sites in Monterey County, located in Salinas and Greenfield. At the time the state was focusing on locating sites in underserved areas of the state.
In July, the Salinas site was running at 97-percent capacity and Greenfield was at 88 percent, but in the last couple of months Greenfield's numbers fell below a requirement of at least 85-percent consistent usage, according to the Monterey County Health Department.
Elsa Jimenez, Monterey County Director of Health, noted that since the summer, other locations in the South County have also been offering testing, including Clinica de Salud and Mee Memorial Hospital clinics.
The OptumServe testing site in Greenfield will remain open through Saturday, Oct. 17, from 8am-8pm.
(The OptumServe test site in Salinas at Cesar Chavez Library remains open. For a list of Covid-19 test sites, see the Health Department website.)
In leaving Greenfield, state officials were "supportive of relocating the testing site to another area in the county with limited access to testing services," the County Health Department's announcement states.
County test results are one of the metrics used by the state to determine which counties may open businesses and schools, and by how much, as the pandemic progresses. Monterey County has been in the highest level of restrictions, the Purple Tier, since the tier system was introduced over a month ago. It means that Covid-19 remains widespread in the community.
As of Oct. 3, the latest state data available, Monterey County is still above the metric for new daily cases—8.5 adjusted rate of cases per day, which is above the state benchmark of seven or less reported cases per day. However, the test positivity rate has fallen to 4.7 percent, which is well below the benchmark of 8 percent required to move into a new tier.
The county was had also fallen below the benchmark for test positivity in census tracts where communities have experienced high rates of Covid-19, in the county's case the Salinas Valley where Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the disease.
Recently the state began using a Health Equity Metric, which requires counties to target resources to those census tracts and prevents counties from stepping down to a lower tier until those tracts come down in positivity rates that meet up with rates in other areas where the test positivity rate is lower.
Monterey County's latest Health Equity Metric test positivity rate as of Oct. 3 is 7.4 percent, which meets the state benchmark of less than 8 percent.
The county must remain below all benchmarks for three weeks before it can step down into the next level, the Red Tier.
Locations that will remain open for Covid-19 testing in South County include the following:
- Clinica de Salud, 808 Oak Ave., Greenfield, 674-5344
- Mee Memorial Clinic, 467 El Camino Real, Greenfield, 674-0112
- Clinica de Salud, 126 5th St., Gonzales, 675-2930
- Clinica de Salud, 122 San Antonio Drive, King City, 385-5944
- Mee Memorial Clinic, 300 Canal St. King City, 385-6000
- Clinica de Salud, 799 Front St., Soledad, 678-0081
- Soledad Medical Clinic, 600 Main St., 678-2665