Santa Clara County begins testing for COVID-19 through saliva samples at certain sites

This student on the UC Davis campus got tested for COVID-19 by submitting saliva samples as part of a pilot program in September 2020. Starting Feb. 16, 2021, Santa Clara County's COVID-19 pop-up testing sites will switching to testing via saliva spe

Santa Clara County's COVID-19 pop-up testing sites are switching to testing via saliva specimen starting Tuesday. 

This new method of testing, which requires individuals to provide about 3 milliliters of saliva in a testing tube, offers a faster and easier experience as opposed to the nasal swab, county officials said. 

And because individuals would collect the saliva into the tube themselves, saliva testing could be safer for staff at testing sites.

"This is another example of how we continue to find ways to improve our testing processes and make it more accessible for our community," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, county COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer.

Recent research found that saliva tests detected the virus' genetic material in saliva samples at a similar rate as swabs collected from the nose or mouth, according to a December study by researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

The saliva samples were also found to be stable for up to 24 hours when stored with ice packs or at room temperature. 

The only caveat is that for accurate results, individuals should not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum 30 minutes before their test. 

"Our goal is to make testing as easy and as safe as possible for our residents," Fenstersheib said. "If you are an essential worker or are at risk for exposure, come get tested regularly."

Sites that will now be offering COVID-19 saliva specimen tests include: 

1) Emmanuel Baptist Church, 467 N. White Road, San Jose, 95127

Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

2) South County Annex, 9300 Wren Ave., Gilroy, 95020
Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The county also offers mobile testing bus sites in San Jose and Campbell. Appointments can be made at or by phone at (888) 634-1123.

Additional information and the option to make appointments for other sites all over the county can be found by visiting and clicking on "Schedule an Appointment Today" or by calling 211.