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Rady Children’s partners with county on massive COVID testing initiative


Read the full article by Paul Sisson in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

Rady Children’s Hospital and the county public health department are working together on a clever collaboration that has the potential to paint the broadest picture yet of how deeply the novel coronavirus has penetrated local communities.

Executives from the hospital and the county announced the initiative Wednesday morning, declaring that their intent is to eventually test up to 2,000 children and their families daily, whether or not they are exhibiting any possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Participation, organizers stressed Wednesday, is voluntary.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 720,000 children age 0 to 18 living in San Diego County. Adding in family members, noted Nick Macchione, director of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, easily pushes the group being asked to participate past 1 million.

“This is not an ordinary collaborative, this is a colossal feat,” Macchione said.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health director, noted that some studies have indicated that children, who are generally less affected by the disease than adults, may have a higher-than-average ability to carry the virus without showing any symptoms. By testing broadly throughout the region, Wooten said, the partnership has an opportunity to cover a lot of ground, collecting samples from the South Bay to North County, center city to East County.

Rady, as the region’s only children’s hospital, is situated to execute this particular plan. Though its only hospital is in Kearny Mesa, Rady has satellite locations running major pediatric campuses with urgent care capabilities in Chula Vista, Escondido, La Mesa, San Diego, Murrieta and Oceanside.

Testing, officials said Wednesday, has already begun in some locations and will eventually be offered to all kids and their families during regular office visits and to those who receive urgent or emergency care. At the moment, there is enough capacity to test about 400 participants per day, officials said, but that number is expected to grow to 2,000 per day over the next six months.