MONTEREY COUNTY — As demand for rapid testing skyrockets, Monterey County Board of Supervisors has unanimously agreed to spend up to $1 million to purchase additional Covid-19 tests for the community.
In a 5-0 vote last Tuesday, the Board committed to bringing more rapid tests to residents and will partner with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to maximize this effort. The tests will be distributed as directed by the Monterey County Health Department to address the virus.
“It’s necessary for us to do all we can to get additional tests in the community,” Supervisor Chris Lopez said before the vote. “The need is widespread, it’s in every corner of our community.”
The funding — up to $1 million to purchase tests as needed — will come from either the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) or cannabis tax funds at the discretion of the County Administrative Officer after discussions with the county’s Budget Department.
Supervisor Wendy Root Askew, who proposed the spending, noted that it will help not only churches, homeless shelters and other care facilities that need ongoing rapid testing, but also children under age 5 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
“We do have 30,000 children still in Monterey County who haven’t yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Root Askew said at the Jan. 25 meeting. “So as we think about the priority demographics that really need ongoing testing, for those families that are trying to keep their babies safe, having access to some level of surveillance testing is absolutely critical.”
Covid-19 testing in Monterey County has surged in the past month, from several hundred to several thousand tests being reported in a single day. In the past week, from Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, more than 13,500 residents were tested by local labs around the county.
As of Monday’s latest data, 82% of the eligible population in Monterey County has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We are committed to keeping residents safe, businesses open and assuring tests are available for those impacted by Covid-19,” the county posted on social media last week, announcing the funding commitment.