Orange County residents began showing up for free COVID-19 screening Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center, the first day of the new site meant to ease some of the county’s testing needs.
About 100 people passed through the site Wednesday morning, said Molly Nicholson, Orange County’s public information manager. The county is expecting about 600 tests to be completed on the first day, Nicholson said, and hopes to reach 1,200 daily within two weeks.
“It was very well set up — the 360 Clinic did a very good job,” said Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do. “We also handed out materials in three major languages — English, Spanish and Vietnamese — to encourage social distancing and wearing face coverings and cleaning their hands often.
“We hope that with this and the Latino Health Equity Initiative that we started last week that together we can get on top of the recent surge in coronavirus cases.”
Orange County officials unveiled some details of the testing program at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
The testing will be offered 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays — by appointment only — for anyone who has symptoms, workers in essential occupations like nurses, doctors and first responders, and those who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus. Also, food industry workers and residents and employees of skilled nursing facilities will be able to get tested.
Recipients are given swabs to extract a specimen from inside their vehicles, which they then give to a worker without any contact.
For those with insurance, the insurer will be billed, and those without insurance will not have to pay as federal funding will cover the cost.
The testing is being done on the west side of the convention center in a parking lot and parking structure off West Street, just south of Katella Avenue. West Street traffic is expected to be affected, so motorists are being warned to avoid the area if possible.
The city is providing the testing site for no charge, and the county is picking up the cost for testing with federal funding.
Do said it is the “first large-scale COVID testing drive-thru” for the county. Irvine began a monthlong drive-thru testing operation on Monday, and all the appointments through early August were quickly filled.
The advantage of the new site is that it is “centrally located” for residents of Santa Ana and Anaheim, the county’s two largest cities which lead it in COVID-19 cases, Do said.
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu told the supervisors he is “proud” the city is partnering with the county on testing with a goal of “opening it up to many more.”
“This will help us address a surge of cases in the community and across Orange County,” Sidhu said. “It will allow us to get back to reopening (the economy) safely when the time is right.”
Dr. Clayton Chau, the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and interim health officer for the county, said officials were finalizing a website that residents will use to sign up for the testing.
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