A state-funded COVID-19 testing center for asylum seekers that will eventually provide vaccinations has opened in Indio, according to county officials.

Set up efforts began Monday assembling the “Testing, Vaccination and Receiving Center” in a parking lot near Highway 111 and Monroe Street. The center is aimed at servicing immigrants seeking asylum who have been released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody in eastern Riverside County in recent months.

“The opening of this site represents important progress towards protecting public health and safety in the communities near the border while maintaining dignity and respect for newly arrived immigrants,” said Tom Osborne, deputy director of homeland security at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The center will operate seven days a week providing COVID-19 testing “for all families and individuals dropped off in eastern Riverside County to ensure the safety of residents, response teams and asylum seekers,” a county statement reads.

The center will service immigrants departing Customs and Border Protection facilities in Indio and Blythe, while immigrants departing the agency’s Murrieta location will be tested in the field, according to county spokeswoman Brooke Federico.

In addition to tests, health professionals will provide medical screening and other services. Plans are in the works to eventually include a vaccination component to the site, but a timeline has not been made public.

Since March, border patrol agents have dropped off more than 2,000 asylum seekers in Riverside County. Approximately half of them have needed to either isolate or quarantine based on a positive COVID-19 test within their family, according to county officials.

Any positive test results among asylum seekers are not counted in Riverside County’s COVID figures, officials said.

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