(Photo via Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)

Contra Costa County health officials are warning anyone with flu symptoms to also be tested for the novel coronavirus, saying Tuesday that it is possible for someone to suffer from both.

Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that health officials are working to equip the county’s COVID-19 test locations with vaccines — and flu testing — as flu season approaches.

Both Farnitano and Anna Roth, Contra Costa County’s health director, said COVID-19 testing in the county has been going up — more than 309,000 tests in the past 30 days, Roth said — but that the rate of testing must increase further still.

As winter approaches, Roth said, plans are being made to move all testing sites indoors. And it appears, she and Farnitano said, that the coronavirus will be part of the Bay Area at least through the winter, if not longer.

“Really, at the most, we’re at halftime with our COVID response,” Farnitano said. “We still have to continue all the efforts to stop the spread.”

The good news, Roth said, is that COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the county have been going down, with the numbers for the first week of September at their lowest totals since mid-July.

While a new testing center is expected to open next week at the county’s Bay Point Family Health Center on Pacifica Avenue in Bay Point, Roth said heat and smoke have prompted the closure of some of the county’s outdoor testing sites on some days over the past few weeks.

That said, Roth added, on most days same-day COVID-19 testing is available in most parts of the county.

Farnitano also said Contra Costa Health Services is encouraging a moratorium on traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this year. Ringing doorbells and accepting handfuls of candy at close range can help spread COVID-19. He encouraged other ways to have fun at Halloween, mentioning drive-by pumpkin carving contests as an example.

Separately, Roth also acknowledged coronavirus-related information changes, both in what data is presented and how it’s presented. Given that COVID-19 is a “new” disease, such changes should be expected, Roth said.

“We update, we refine the information, and we’re learning more every day,” Roth said.