by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

To meet an increased demand brought by an unprecedented surge caused by the Omicron variant, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced it continues to expand regional COVID-19 testing. 

This expansion is a part of a network of free testing sites that include walk-up and appointment-based services. These county-operated testing sites are one of many options in the region. 

According to the county, local health care providers offer to test members who meet each systems’ criteria. Local pharmacies offer same-day testing as do other locations

Health officials say rapid antigen tests, which are available for purchase at many local pharmacies, are a good alternative if testing sites are unavailable. 

The newest testing center is a site at Palomar YMCA in Escondido that can provide up to 800 tests a day, Monday to Friday. New appointments are made available daily and can be booked up to three days in advance.

This announcement comes as county health officials announced the region’s total surpassed 600,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 9,382 COVID-19 cases were reported to the County on Jan. 18, bringing the region’s total to 613,632.

According to the county, there are 24 new reported deaths as of Jan.12, which brings the region’s cumulative total to 4,554 deaths since the pandemic began. 

The Omicron variant surpassed Delta as the dominant strain circulating the United States, accounting for 99.5 percent of new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC.

 As of Jan.18, the county reported 41,506 positive tests with a new positive case rate of 22.6 percent. 

Hospitalizations continue to surge along with COVID-19 positive cases, causing some to declare internal emergencies due to scarce resources. During the 30-day- period between Dec. 7, 2021, to Jan. 5, 2022, there were 729 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Of those, 419 people were not fully vaccinated and 310 were fully vaccinated.

Many patients who were admitted to hospitals for other reasons discover COVID-19 positive status through hospital-mandated tests.

County health officials continue to urge residents to avoid testing at local emergency departments unless they are experiencing severe symptoms. 

Additionally, the federal government rolled out a program that allows every residential household in the United States to order up to four at-home COVID-19 test kits free of charge. Tests are available to order online at

Those ordering the test kits need only provide a name and address. No ID, credit card, or health insurance information is required.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *