A COVID-19 instant test on January 8, 2022. This test results were negative. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

Several COVID-19 testing sites in Santa Cruz County have recently been converted into “test to treat” locations, with the ability to prescribe antiviral medication to those who test positive.

The test to treat sites, which include the county’s three testing sites operated by OptumServe Federal Health Services, offer consultations with a physician who, if they determine it is medically necessary, will prescribe antiviral medication like Paxlovid or Molnupiravir that can reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill.

Both medications must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms to effectively treat COVID and are available to anyone age 12 and up.

“As we continue to experience swells in cases, those who are at risk for serious illness should check with their healthcare provider to see if they are eligible for COVID-19 treatments,” said Dr. Cal Gordon, the county’s deputy health officer. “We are hopeful that as more people learn about the new oral medications, they won’t delay in seeking care if they test positive.”

County health officials urged those who have yet to do so to get vaccinated against COVID and, if eligible, get a booster vaccine dose to bolster protection against the virus.

County residents can find information about COVID treatments, testing locations and where to get vaccinated at https://www.santacruzhealth.org/HSAHome/HSADivisions/PublicHealth/CommunicableDiseaseControl/CoronavirusHome.aspx.