Kaiser Health News, August 2020
In some ways, the nation’s COVID testing system is like a game of Jenga: When one piece falters, the entire tower collapses. Take Sacramento County, home to 1.5 million people and California’s capital. Coronavirus cases started surging in late June, and on July 15, 360 residents were diagnosed, marking an ominous single-day record.
Around that time, people flocked to testing sites run by the state, county, local health systems and other providers, and CVS, the first major retail establishment to start testing in Sacramento County.
But securing a test became next to impossible for many people. Even as Gov. Gavin Newsom touted California’s ability to test roughly 100,000 people per day, Sacramento’s time slots filled quickly, five county-run testing sites temporarily shuttered, and some health care providers limited testing to symptomatic patients.
For those lucky enough to get tested, results took days — sometimes weeks — to return, rendering them essentially useless.