This story has been updated to reflect a change in location of the San Pablo testing site.
By Kathy Chouteau
A new “test to treat” state COVID-19 testing site has opened at Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive in San Pablo. The site will not only offer testing, but also prescription medication to those who test positive. State sites operated by OptumServe have already opened in Antioch, Brentwood and Pleasant Hill, according to Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).
Schedule online or call 833-829-2626 to make an appointment. To nationally search for Test-to-Treat sites based on zip code, use the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response site locater here.
Community members visiting the aforementioned sites will take a rapid antigen test; if it’s positive and patients exhibit symptoms, they will be connected via video to a doctor, who will determine if they should be prescribed the oral antiviral pills Paxlovid or Molnupiravir.
CCHS Director Anna Roth said that the additional test to treat locations are primarily in areas “hardest hit by the pandemic” and will provide a “big boost to our efforts to eliminate preventable deaths from COVID in Contra Costa County.” She underscored that the new sites will “greatly improve access to COVID treatments.”
The new test to treat sites are part of President Biden’s overall plan for a nationwide rollout of the sites, which he announced in March. Previously there had only been three such sites in Contra Costa County, per CCHS.
In December, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the oral antiviral medications, with clinical trials finding that Paxlovid reduces a patient’s risk of hospitalization by nearly 90 percent, said CCHS. “The medications, which require a prescription from a doctor, are free and available to anyone age 12 or older regardless of vaccination status,” per CCHS, which said that infected patients must start taking them within five days of the start of their symptoms.
While these drug supplies were initially scarce, that is no longer a concern, according to Dr. Sofe’ Mekuria, deputy health officer for Contra Costa County, who called them “incredibly effective tools in our fight against severe disease from COVID.”
An advice nurse line (877-661-6230) is also available to county residents who test positive for COVID, regardless of insurance, according to CCHS. “Advice nurses screen callers and schedule free telehealth appointments with a provider who can prescribe medication,” stated officials.