A program intended to bring free COVID-19 testing to Black churches across California began Wednesday with drive-thru testing at the First AME Church in South Los Angeles.

The Black Church COVID-19 Testing Partnership will bring pop-up sites to 35 churches with the goal of testing 150 people at each location daily, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

“Faith leaders and the church community have and continue to be a trusted source of information and influence for the Black community,” the department said.

“Black churches will serve as a known and trusted safe space for accessing testing, given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the Black community.”

Testing will also be conducted at seven other churches in the Los Angeles area through June 30 including churches in Santa Monica, Long Beach, Compton, Inglewood. Testing is free and doesn’t require insurance or an appointment.

“The opening of COVID-19 coronavirus testing sites at Black churches across the state is a great step in the right direction,” said Rev. J Edgar Boyd, senior minister and CEO of First AME Church.

“The concept of opening testing centers in neighborhood churches makes it entirely convenient for persons to be tested in neighborhoods where they live and/or work.”

A map of the testing sites can be viewed at www.aacec-cal.org/covid19testing.

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