By Alejandro Ambriz
Residents of Los Angeles county experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or know people vulnerable to the virus can get tested for free at the drive-up site at East Los Angeles College.
The testing center, located in the parking lot on the west end of the campus, is part of a countywide effort to increase testing availability in East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley.
The center opened on April 8, becoming one of more than 30 locations residents can go to get safely tested for COVID-19.
Residents who are experiencing symptoms can schedule an appointment at coronavirus.lacity.org/-testing or call 211.
Testing is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and tests are booked for the following day.
The site is operated through a partnership with LA County, the Los Angeles Community College District and the Edward Roybal Comprehensive Health Center in East Los Angeles.
“The drive up sites provide individuals in East Los Angeles, Monterey Park, and the surrounding communities with a quick and safe way to get tested in order to slow the spread of the virus,” said county supervisor Hilda Solis in a COVID-19 update April 8.
Currently, tests are prioritized for residents with COVID-19 symptoms who are at most risk.
The LA County website defines this as people with the virus’ symptoms who are 65 and older.
Also, anyone with symptoms and an underlying condition are included in this prioritization. Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to fever, shortness of breath and now loss of taste or smell.
Residents who arrive at the testing site will be instructed on how to self-administer the oral swab testing kit by healthcare staff, which include workers from the Royal Health Center, the fire department and the lifeguard.
Once people complete the test, they drop off the sample in blue bins.
At this time, residents may only show up to the appointment by car and only people who have the appointment will be tested.
The process is contactless in order to protect healthcare workers from possibly being exposed to COVID-19. It takes between five and ten minutes and waiting times vary.
Robert Garcia, an ELAC student and resident of Monterey Park, went to get tested recently and said the process was straightforward. He found out about the testing site through an ELAC Facebook group.
“They had me cough in my car and then asked me to swab the inside of my cheeks for like 30 seconds. (The process) ended up taking about half an hour in total,” Garcia said.
The county website instructs people to not eat food prior to showing for an appointment as it can interfere with the results.
Solis said the site is capable of treating 250 residents a day, with results being ready in two or three days. If the result is positive, residents will be contacted by phone and emailed if negative.