By Ann Frances —
Irvine residents, as well as those who work in Irvine, can get tested for COVID-19 whether they present symptoms or are asymptomatic. The free testing begins July 13 in Lot 6 at the Orange County Great Park, and will continue Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment only, for a one-month period.
“Hopefully this one-month pilot turns into many months of testing,” said Irvine Police Commander James Hutchcraft.”
Things went very smoothly the first morning of testing, with plenty of staff on hand to direct traffic through the stations at the site. Those conducting the testing wore full personal protective equipment including gowns, gloves, masks and plastic face shields. They spoke to those being tested through their car windows, which were opened just enough to get directions on how to administer the tests to themselves. Tests were passed to and from the car with an extended “grabber” tool.
“If you have an appointment today, you will get a test today,” Commander Hutchcraft explained. “We’re doing our vetting on the front end [through the appointment portal].” This, he said, was to make sure people don’t wait on long lines, only to leave without being tested.
“We chose this site,” Commander Hutchcraft said of Lot 6 at the Great Park,”so we can scale up or down as needed. We can add more lanes.”
Currently there are two lanes running, but the lot allows for more lanes.
“Making testing accessible to those who live and work in Irvine is essential to reinforce our health and safety efforts,” Vice Mayor Mike Carroll said in a statement. “As the council member who brought this initiative forward, I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a testing program that supports the needs of our community. We remain committed to implement one of the most important tools available to protect Irvine from COVID-19.”
Through a collaboration with Curogram and a number of local laboratories, more than 200 tests will be conducted each day with results expected within three days. The self-administered tests may be taken either by nasal swab or oral swab, with patients staying their cars the entire time.
The appointment portal for the COVID-19 testing has already been closed due to the high interest in the program. The city’s appointment page now reads: “As appointments become available, the City will provide updates on an ongoing basis.”
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