Rep. Mike Levin Leads Orange County Congressional Delegation in Letter to OC Health Agency on COVID-19 Testing Deficiencies

May 12, 2020
Press Release

San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) led a letter to Orange County Health Care Agency Director Clayton Chau requesting more information regarding the County’s low COVID-19 testing volume in comparison with other counties. The letter, which was signed by the entire Orange County Congressional delegation, requests a briefing to better understand the factors contributing to the testing deficiencies so they may work together to address the disparity.

“We write today with concerns regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing disparities between Orange County and other counties. Because research has shown that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic,  widespread testing will be especially critical to quickly identify and contain small outbreaks and strengthen public confidence as the state gradually relaxes its stay-at-home order,” the Members wrote. “All levels of government must pursue the greatest testing volume possible, and we stand ready to assist with any federal resources needed to support your work.”

Click here or see below for their full letter:

Clayton Chau

Director

Orange County Health Care Agency

405 West 5th Street

Santa Ana, CA 92701

Dear Director Chau,

We write today with concerns regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing disparities between Orange County and other counties. Because research has shown that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic,  widespread testing will be especially critical to quickly identify and contain small outbreaks and strengthen public confidence as the state gradually relaxes its stay-at-home order.

As of May 11, 2020, approximately 52,982 tests had been conducted in Orange County.  Meanwhile, San Diego County, which has a similar population size, had conducted 82,116.  Riverside County, whose population is one-third smaller, had conducted 73,149.

We request a briefing to understand the factors contributing to Orange County’s comparably low testing volume so that we may work together to address this disparity. Specifically, we request that you address the following questions during the briefing:

  1. What public and private laboratories are conducting COVID-19 testing for Orange County residents? For each laboratory, please provide average daily PCR testing volumes, serology testing volumes, PCR testing capacity, and serology testing capacity. Please also provide average turnaround times and the platforms they are using.
  2. If testing volumes are lower than capacity at any of these laboratories, what steps are you taking to increase utilization? In particular, how are you encouraging health professionals to expand sample collection in accordance with guidance from the California Department of Public Health?
  3. We have heard reports that some Orange County laboratories are not reporting test results on a daily basis. Please provide more detail, including laboratory names and your efforts to rectify this.
  4. Have you spoken with other local public health agencies to exchange best practices to increase testing volumes, and if so, how have you leveraged this information?
  5. How many swabs, viral transport media, collection tubes, biohazard bags, or other testing supplies have you requested from the state? How many have you received?
  6. What individuals and offices within the county are currently responsible for ensuring testing supplies and policies meet demand? 

All levels of government must pursue the greatest testing volume possible, and we stand ready to assist with any federal resources needed to support your work. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request and for your efforts to protect the health of all Orange County residents.

Sincerely,

###

Issues: