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People faced long lines for COVID-19 testing this week
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People faced long lines for COVID-19 testing this week

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Coronavirus

People seeking testing for COVID-19 at the Napa Valley Expo as of Thursday reported delays of two to three hours in the wake of a new company taking over site operation.

Test-seekers with scheduled appointments this week can expect waits of over an hour, Napa County said in a statement. The county advised those who have no symptoms or who don’t need a test for work to reschedule for next week or try other testing options.

“We understand there has been some frustration with the state’s new COVID-19 testing vendor as they work to transition services at over 80 testing sites across California, including the one in Napa,” the county statement said.

County spokesperson Janet Upton on Thursday said the county is hoping to see significant improvement next week.

Test-seeker Siobhan O’Grady said she waited two hours on Thursday, even with an appointment. The previous vendor took an average of 15 minutes, she added.

“I’m a frontline Child Protective Services social worker in emergency response, and I need to get tested regularly to keep my family safe,” O’Grady said.

The long wait delayed two meetings with families, she said.

California previously had a contract with Verily to run the testing site. That contract ended and OptumServe took over this week.

Verily had volunteers help with the testing, with volunteers since last spring providing more than 12,000 hours. OptumServe does not use volunteers and has had staffing issues, county officials said.

The county met with OptumServe and Expo officials Wednesday night reworking the flow and lines of traffic. OptumServe has agreed to have volunteers and county staff help until the staffing issues are resolved, Upton said.

Among other things, county staff and volunteers on Thursday told people in the line that they faced a significant delay and let them know scheduling options, Upton said. That allowed them to decide if they wanted to wait for over an hour.

“While this may be a state and vendor operation, it’s branded Napa County,” Upton said.

The goal is that the community will ultimately benefit from the new vendor’s extended hours and testing availability for all ages, a county statement said.

OptumServe could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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