County to expand free COVID-19 testing sites

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SAN DIEGO – The county is working to expand free COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites throughout the region, to reach at-risk and vulnerable populations.

A drive-up site was open Saturday at the Euclid Health Center in Southeast San Diego. There were 24 tests available as part of a pilot program.

“To serve the communities of color, the communities of concern, the ones that are certainly at higher risk because they have more underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Suzanne Afflalo. “And also because they are still working. Not everyone is able to quarantine safely at home.”

The nasal swab test administered at the site is said to have results back within 24 to 48 hours. The service is free but people who want to take the test need to schedule an appointment.

Kaiel Noble, one of the people tested Saturday, said his mother searched around for about a week looking for a way to get them tested.

“My mom doesn’t play games,” said Noble. “She was like, ‘we’re gonna get them done, you and I so we know and have that peace of mind.'”

His entire experience getting tested from start to finish took about ten minutes.

“I feel hopeful right now just because I feel like a lot of people are just very grateful for what they do have and are being closer to family so it’s a good thing,” Noble said.

State public health authorities will be opening up three additional testing locations on Tuesday at Grossmont College, the County’s North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido, and the old Sears location in Chula Vista.

People won’t don’t have access to a medical provider can schedule an appointment by calling 2-1-1 and getting a referral. The testing will be focused on vulnerable populations including migrants, healthcare workers, racial and ethnic groups, residents in rural areas, and people with underlying medical conditions.

It’s expected that more mobile testing sites will continue to open, making testing more widely available. The end goal is to eventually be able to test up to 5,200 people daily.

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