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Riverside introduces no-cost, self-administered oral coronavirus tests

Riverside County has “artificially high” coronavirus case counts and healthy people need to get tested make county and state figures more accurate, according to Riverside’s mayor.

New no-cost tests, available starting Wednesday, Nov. 11, could help.

“When only sick people are being tested, our case counts are artificially high and are currently preventing us from changing tiers,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey said at a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 10. “We want our schools, our local businesses, our places of worship and entertainment and our tourist locations to be able to reopen as soon as safely possible. … Increased testing can help us accomplish those goals.”

In order to give a more accurate picture of how the virus that causes COVID-19 has spread in the Inland Empire, Riverside officials announced the city would be providing no-cost, self-administered, drive-up tests in partnership with San Dimas-based company Curative. Curative is reimbursed for the cost of the tests by the person’s insurance company or through the state — and the tests are available to anyone with an appointment, not just Riverside residents.

“It’s one of the most accurate tests on the market,” said Lucy Licht, the head of Southern California Partnerships for Curative. “It’s easy, it’s painless, it’s comfortable.”

According to the Yale University team that developed the saliva test, which was approved by the FDA in August, it detected the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 94% of the time in cases also identified by the much more invasive — and uncomfortable — nasal swabs.

Riverside test recipients will get results within 48 hours by text message or email, according to the mayor.

“Just cough a few times, swab in your mouth, swab in a container, hand it to a medical professional and that’s it,” Bailey said.

This is the first time saliva COVID-19 tests are being made available by a government agency in Riverside County, according to Jose Arballo Jr., a spokesman with the county health department.

The newly available tests were announced as Riverside County health officials said that COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 57% compared to this time last month. The county is at least three weeks away from moving from the purple to the less-restrictive red tier, if the rate of new cases per day (adjusted for testing volume) or the rate of positive COVID-19 tests does not rise.

“Both our case rate and our positivity rate continue to increase,” Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Read from source….