The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Clovis is lower than its neighboring communities, but testing centers will remain open for the foreseeable future.
Since early April, 48 COVID-19 testing centers have opened in Fresno County to meet county Public Health Director Dr. Rais Vohra’s goal of testing 1,500 people each day. The county is expected to hit that goal within the next week.
Five of the testing facilities are located in Clovis. They include Armstrong Urgent Care, Clovis Community Health Center, Willow Urgent Care and two Central Valley Indian Health facilities. Their locations and phone numbers can be found at the Fresno County Department of Public Health website.
Health experts say mass testing is needed to get a better understanding of the spread of COVID-19 and the population’s development toward “herd immunity,” a term used to describe when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease.
A total of 31,871 tests were processed in Fresno County as of June 15, but there is limited data available for how many of those tests were conducted in Clovis testing facilities, said Simranjit Dhillon, a representative for the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
“This data is limited due to how negative test results are received and would misrepresent the actual number of tests done by residents of the city. This is due to several factors, but a limited data set for negative test results is a key contributor,” he said. “This is the opposite for positive test results, which come with more complete data sets for contact tracing.”
Clovis’ positive cases are relatively low compared to other Fresno County communities. With 114 confirmed cases as of June 15, Clovis is eighth in the county when it comes to positive COVID-19 cases.
When testing centers first opened, only first responders were given priority to COVID-19 testing. Then testing priority was expanded to include essential workers. Now that the FCDPH has secured more test kits, and more facilities have opened, anyone can schedule an appointment to get tested.
Judy Kelley, a family nurse practitioner at Willow Urgent Care, said her facility tests about 10 people per day. Kelley said she tests people of all ages, including children and seniors, but described the majority of the people seeking tests as 18 years or older.
She said she is surprised that her facility has only received five positive COVID-19 cases.
“I’ve been very surprised about how few are positive, we have tested a lot of people, but we only had five that were positive,” she said.
A representative from the Armstrong urgent Care testing facility told the Roundup that COVID-19 testing is “sporadic” at her facility, as dozens of patients may come in one day and zero the next.
“It seems to come in waves. Last week, we tested 16 to 18 people in one day, and no tests the next day,” she said.
For people who want to get tested, there are two options.
The most well-known is the nasal swab test, a procedure that Kelley said takes only a few moments and is the fastest way to get tested and receive results.
“I think the biggest issue for most people is that they heard that the (nasal swab test) is really uncomfortable. It is, but it only lasts seconds, and of course the information you get from it is invaluable,” Kelley said.
Nasal swab tests are useful to accurately find if a patient has COVID-19 at the time they are tested, but cannot determine if a patient already had the disease and recovered from it.
That is where the antibody tests come in. Instead of swabbing a patient’s nasal cavity, antibody tests require doctors to collect a blood sample. If the patient did in fact have COVID-19 and overcame it, the antibodies in their blood can be used to help other patients who are struggling to overcome the illness.
Kelley said anyone who thinks they may have overcome COVID-19 should get an antibody test.
“The most important reason to get tested is to donate blood for those who are really ill and can’t get rid of it on their own. I would donate in a heartbeat,” Kelley said.
Vohra said staff from Clovis testing centers are moving to assist facilities in Sanger, adding that many Clovis residents travel to the county’s Sanger facility to get tested. As of June 15, there were 215 confirmed cases in Sanger.
“We are sending a lot of folks from that part of the county over to our site in Sanger, which can run 130 tests a day, and they seem to be booking up almost every day,” Vohra said.
People hoping to get tested can call any of the centers or visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting to schedule an appointment.