SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County officials have unveiled a plan to provide COVID-19 home test kits to residents in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

“We believe that testing is an important part of safe COVID-19 practices,” Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Andrew Do said at a news conference to unveil details about the testing program. “We want to approve a testing program that is accessible to you, and we would like you to work it into your holiday practice.”

Residents could test themselves two or three days before going to a holiday event and then test one more time a few days later, Do said. Experts recommend the two- or three-day buffer because it can take that long for an infection to be detected.

If a person tests positive, they will know to stay home and avoid any gatherings so as not to spread the virus.

Do said past history has shown that coronavirus cases rise around holidays.

“We know that when we have multiple holidays close to each other, there is an amplification effect,” Do said.

He said that, especially with flu season in full swing, the upcoming holidays will make their efforts to curb infection rates more challenging.

“The risk that our health system can be overwhelmed is very high,” Do said. “This is a time for us to be really cognizant of what we’re doing and be responsible, take steps to protect ourselves and to protect those we love, and also by controlling the spread of COVID-19 we help to protect our economy, as well.”

Officials said residents should try to have virtual parties, but if families want to gather then they recommend no more than two households staying outdoors only.

Do said increasing testing is one of the most effective ways to drive down coronavirus cases.

“Widespread testing is necessary and, most importantly, it is achievable,” Do said. “It is not difficult to do and we really encourage you to take advantage of it.”

By next week, the county will provide 11,000 at home test kits to residents in Anaheim and Santa Ana, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

The kits contain saliva PCR tests, so they do not require a nose swab. Orange County Health Care Agency Director Clayton Chau, who is also the chief health officer, said the saliva tests are as accurate as the swab
tests.

The kits also contain a FedEx label that will allow for 24-hour results if mailed by 1:30 p.m.

The kits are free of charge. The program is being funded by CARES Act money.

By year’s end, the county is expected to have 500,000 of the kits available to be handed out to residents throughout the county, Do said.

It’s not clear how much the program will cost the county.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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