By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento County is looking at new ways to expand coronavirus testing as a never-ending stream of people looks to put their minds at ease.

Jim and Kathleen Harris said they were recently exposed to a family member who tested positive to COVID-19, and they got themselves tested on Friday.

“They let us know. We had seen them, we ate outside and were being careful, but we are just being ultra-cautious,” said Kathleen.

But getting a COVID-19 test wasn’t easy for the two.

“It took several days to get in, so we started calling around Monday and this was the first appointment we could get in,” said Kathleen.

That’s a result of a nationwide shortage of testing kits and lab space. And when a company couldn’t provide chemicals for test kits, it forced the Sacramento County Public Health Department to close five local testing sites down.

Dr. Peter Beilenson, director of the Department of Health Services, said they will reopen next week if the county can complete a deal to provide more tests.

“It will be a combo of existing partnership with UCD and an additional partnership with a lab,” Beilenson said.

It would be paid for with more than a million and a half in funding already in place. That money would also be used to open five new testing sites in the upcoming weeks.

“Two to three of which are going to be North highlands and Rancho Cordova, but we do not know for sure yet,” Beilenson said.

The National Guard would operate the reopened sites for several more weeks, but Beilenson said the county needs to find a long term solution – and more money.

“We are hopeful but not depending on it,” he said.

In the short term, Beilenson said the county cannot rely on nationwide test kits or lab space, which is already at capacity.

“We are going outside big commercial land and outside the feds to come up with our own solution,” he said.

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