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Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 7/9/20, PM


State Senate Not Returning From Recess / Testing Delays Across California

State Senate Not Returning From Recess

The California Senate will delay its work because of a coronavirus outbreak at the Capitol and an increasing number of new cases across the state. The Senate had been scheduled to return from its summer recess on Monday. But a memo from Secretary of the Senate Erika Contreras says it won't be in session next week. The memo does not give a return date. The state Assembly already announced an indefinite hiatus after six people who work there tested positive for the virus. That includes Democratic Assemblywoman Autumn Burke from Inglewood. Lawmakers missed nearly two months of work at the start of the pandemic.

Testing Delays Across California

Depending on where in California you live, it may be harder to get a COVID-19 test than it was a few weeks ago.

Nicole Stefko ran an essential errand last month - taking her sick pitbull mix, Charlee, to the vet. 

A few days later she got an email from the vet’s office that she might’ve been exposed to COVID at the appointment. 

“We would have both liked to have been tested, just out of precaution.”

Stefko is referring to herself and her wife, who’s immune-compromised due to a heart condition.

But when they tried to get screened through CVS, Project Baseline and their own doctors, they were turned away.

Michelle Gibbons with the County Health Executives Association of California says testing demand is high right now.

“If you’re in a jurisdiction where you have a high number of cases, I think folks are going to want or be eager to get testing.”

But some counties still don’t have enough lab space, or test kits, or funding to keep up. 

“To the extent that there are supply chain issues, that is something that we’re going to need state, and the state may even need federal help to help support that.”

Sacramento had to close five of its testing sites because they’re running out of the fluid needed to transport samples to the lab. Because of increased demand, some counties have had to limit who they test, and deal with longer wait times for results.

Stefko says when she and her wife couldn’t get tested, they decided to self isolate for a while, just to be safe. 

“This was the first time I’ve ever throughout this whole ordeal been contacted by somebody where I had possibly been directly exposed, and to not be able to get a test was really frustrating.”

Doctors recommend staying at home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.