Large healthcare systems must offer COVID-19 testing in Santa Clara County

A new Santa Clara County health order goes into effect Monday requiring large health care systems to offer COVID-19 testing for patients in categories of high risk.

Under the order, larger health care systems must offer testing for all patients with COVID-19 symptoms, all patients who have come in close contact with a person who tested positive and all patients who are at higher risk of being exposed because they are frontline workers, regularly use public transit or have recently gone to a mass gathering.

Providers who must offer access to testing include acute care hospitals and clinics and urgent care centers operated by organizations that operate an acute care hospital in Santa Clara County or elsewhere.

Clinics and hospitals included in the order are: Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, El Camino Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Regional Medical Center and Stanford Health Care.

 "Just as we expect all health care providers to test their patients for other communicable diseases and conditions that put their health at risk, healthcare providers need to test their patients for COVID-19," county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement. "Many healthcare providers have already stepped up to meet this expectation and we are grateful for their partnership.

County health officials said the new health order follows state and federal requirements that health insurers cover coronavirus testing for their customers.