Orange County officials are rolling out a drive-through coronavirus testing site Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is expected to increase the county’s testing capacity by about 10 percent amid a shortage that’s been leading to week-long wait times for some tests.
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County officials said the new site will offer 600 to 800 tests per day, five days per week, for people with coronavirus symptoms, as well as people who have had close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, healthcare workers, first responders, residents and employees of congregate living facilities like nursing homes, and essential workers like grocery store workers and public employees.
“I’m thrilled that we have our partners Clinic 360 and city of Anaheim today to celebrate what is our first large-scale testing site in Orange County,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, whose district includes Anaheim, at Tuesday’s meeting of the county Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Andrew Do added that the location “is really very centrally located for the residents of Anaheim and Santa Ana. Both of those cities have been the epicenter of the spike…in terms of COVID-19.”
Officials said appointments can be made at this web address.
The goal is to ramp up testing at the Anaheim site to 1,200 tests per day within two weeks, county officials said. And a second drive-through location is in the works at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, though the property won’t be available for at least two more weeks, county officials said Tuesday.
There will be no cost for people to get tested, with costs being covered by either by insurance or federal funds in cases where people are uninsured, county officials said in a news release Tuesday.
“The more we do now, the quicker we will get through this,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said of the testing, during comments at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
There’s been an average of 6,700 total test results per day reported in Orange County over the last week.
County health officials acknowledged there isn’t enough testing to keep pace with demand, and said they’re trying to expand access.
“I understand there’s a wait. And we’re doing our best to help build this further capacity and make the wait shorter,” said Chaffee.
For test results at the new convention center site, there’s currently a 48-hour estimated turnaround time at the lab that will process the tests, said Dr. Donna Fleming, public health services consulting manager at the OC Health Care Agency, who oversees testing.
The lab is Fulgent Genetics in Monrovia, she said Wednesday in a written response to questions.
Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, noted at Tuesday’s meeting that new mobile testing sites in Santa Ana and Anaheim were completely booked within 24 hours.
“The demand is pretty high in this county,” he said of testing.
The wait time to schedule a test at some sites is more than a week, with some labs having backlogs of more than a week as well in processing tests, according to county Health Care Agency officials.
And when it comes to contact tracing to help notify people who have been exposed to the virus, the County of Orange has fewer than half the contact tracers recommended by state health officials.
Chaffee asked Chau on Tuesday if there’s enough staff for contact tracing after someone tests positive.
“Of course not. Nobody has enough staff,” Chau replied.
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.