Free coronavirus antibody blood tests are now available in the Coachella Valley at 10 testing sites scattered around the region, it was announced Thursday.
The antibody tests, numbering 10,000 in total, are used to uncover past viral infections, but do not replace nasal or oral swabs used to determine whether or not a patient is currently contagious.
“This is a very important tool for helping us better establish the real rate of infection in the community and determine who might be able to return to work safely when the economy reopens,” said Dr. Conrado Barzaga, CEO of Desert Healthcare District, which funded the tests.
“From a public health perspective, the findings will also help the district develop plans for dealing with COVID-19 over the coming months, particularly as it relates to the 80,000 people in the valley who don’t have medical insurance,” Barzaga said.
The antibody test requires a small blood sample and takes about 10 minutes to produce results, and are available to anybody who wants one, the district said.
Despite reports that some antibody tests on the market may be unvetted and ineffective, these particular tests were validated via internal testing done by the three federally qualified health centers that are conducting the tests, including Borrego Health, Desert AIDS Project and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, district officials said.
Officials did not immediately respond to a request Thursday asking if the tests were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The district’s Board of Directors previously approved $350,000 to pay for the tests at a special meeting on April 3.
District officials are asking all people wanting to get tested to make appointments before showing up at any of the 10 testing sites, which include:
— Desert AIDS Project, 1695 N. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-992-0407.
— Centro Medico, 69175 Ramon Road, Bldg. A, Cathedral City, open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-321-6776.
— Stonewall Medical Center, 68555 Ramon Road, Cathedral City, open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, and can be reached at 760-507-3310.
— Desert Hot Springs Community Health Center, 66675 Pierson Blvd., Desert Hot Springs, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-676-5240.
— Borrego Health’s temporary testing site near Spotlight 29 Casino, 5365 Dillon Road, Coachella, open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays, and can be reached at 833-624-1097.
— Centro Medico Oasis, 88775 76 Ave., Suite 1, Thermal, open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-397-2501.
— Centro Medico Coachella, 55497 Van Buren St., Thermal, open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-399-4526.
— Martha’s Village Clinic, 83791 Date Ave., Indio, open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the site is closed from noon to 1 p.m., and can be reached at 760-391-6000.
— Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, 50249 Cesar Chavez St., Unit K, Coachella, open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-393-0555.
— Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, 91275 66th Ave., Suite 500, Mecca, open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and can be reached at 760-396-1249.