In Orange County, the rate of new coronavirus cases has tripled in the past two weeks.
While upscale coastal cities, like Newport Beach, have had relatively few cases, inland cities, like Santa Ana and Anaheim, account for a disproportionately high share of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, and the first home tests are targeted there.
“The inability of some residents, who lack the means, to work remotely or to quarantine appropriately has led to disparities in infection rates between communities,” said Andrew Do, vice chairman of the board county watchdog.
“Our challenge will be to get the message across: this is how you protect your loved ones, and we can get back to business and interact with each other.”
Unlike the Orange County nasal swab testing program, which has targeted people with symptoms of coronavirus, the at-home saliva effort aims to expand testing to include people who may not be suffering from any symptoms.
In the initial phase, the county partnered with five community clinics to distribute 11,000 test kits. The test was developed by Ambry Genetics, a local company specializing in genetic diseases that converted part of its lab to produce the tests.
“Our test literally involves spitting up to a point in the tube, sealing the cap and mailing it,” said Aaron Elliott, CEO of the company, who compared it to great genetic testing. public like those from AncestryDNA. “It’s a lot easier than tickling your brain with a nasal tampon.”
The county plans to open the county-wide at-home saliva testing program as Ambry Genetics ramps up production. “We hope this will be a game-changer in a lot of ways,” said Doug Chaffee, a county supervisor who represents a part of Anaheim that is heavily Hispanic.