Santa Clara County: COVID-19 Test Supplies Stretched Thin

Coronavirus 1

With the supply of COVID-19 tests stretched thin, Santa Clara County officials said local hospitals should be doing more to help.

Things got a little tense at a recent meeting of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, where Supervisor Joe Simitian grilled representatives of private health networks about the number of COVID-19 tests they have provided to patients. 

An issue in this heated back-and-forth was a county health order announced back in June that required large health care providers like Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and Stanford Health Care to offer COVID-19 tests to a broad range of patients, but with the county’s own health system providing far and away the most tests of any in the county, Simitian said the private sector still isn’t doing its share.

"Without their participation, we’re never going to get the level of testing we need to get the job done and find our way out of this pandemic," he said.

While hospital representatives told KCBS Radio that they are absolutely following the county’s testing order, they also acknowledge that shortages of certain supplies needed for testing are posing a major shortage.

Dr. Christina Kong is the medical director of pathology for Stanford Health Care, and she said that the latest shortage has been in specialized pipette tips.

"When those become short, the places that are running that instrument, they end up with decreased capacity unless they can get their hands on those tips," she explained.

Simitian, in the meantime, said he is aware of the supply chain shortages. Nevertheless, he intends to keep pushing.

"Throwing up our hands and saying, 'It is what it is,' that’s not a solution," he said. "That’s not going to get us out of the bad place we’re in right now."