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Self-administered COVID-19 testing in San Jose


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – A new twist in COVID-19 testing was rolled out on Tuesday in the South Bay.

What’s new is that instead of a health care worker administering the test, you do it yourself.

It’s called the self-administered COVID-19 test.

Starting Tuesday, testing at the Santa Clara County drop-in testing site at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jose was done via an observed self-administered nasal swab. 

In other words, people insert the swab into their own noses and put the swab into a solution for later testing. It’s that simple. 

The method has proven successful in other communities and has the potential to increase the number of people being tested, says Valley Medical Center’s Dr. Jennifer Tong.

“The swab only goes in about half an inch to an inch, so it doesn’t go far back. What I tell people is it might tickle a little bit, but it shouldn’t hurt and then they just firmly rub it around the inside wall of their nose,” Dr. Tong said. 

Self-testing is optional. Those taking part are shown a video and given a brief tutorial by trained observers, which frees up scarce resources that may be needed elsewhere. 

Dr. Tong says there would normally be as many as 16 nurses on duty here on any given day but today only four were needed.

“It allows us to continue such high volume testing, while also getting some of our nurses into other areas where we need them even more right now. Back in the hospitals, starting to get ready to administer vaccines,” Dr. Tong said. 

Judging from the lines forming outside this and other test centers, the community is hearing the message about the rapidly rising prevalence of the virus.

Test positivity has risen from two to four percent in the past month. It’s hoped self-administered testing and other coming innovations will help flatten the curve.

“Well our goal is to identify as many people with active infections as possible so they can be aware of their infection and isolate themselves from others, not go to work, and so by continuing to test as many people as we possibly can, we do hope that that will decrease the ongoing spread,” Dr. Tong said.

So far, the self-administered testing is only available at the Emmanuel Baptist Church site on North White Road in San Jose. Eventually, they hope this self-testing will be rolled out to all sites across Santa Clara County.

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