Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

GREENFIELD — Area elected officials are urging South Monterey County residents to get tested for Covid-19 at the Greenfield location, noting that if the site isn’t used more frequently, it might be shifted to another city by the state.

“Go get tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Greenfield Library,” said Greenfield Mayor Lance Walker in a video last week. “The tests are free.”

Walker noted the tests can be covered by insurance, and if not, whatever isn’t covered will be picked up by the state.

Priority was given to first responders, but now the testing is open to anyone who calls in to make an appointment.

“Since the first responders and the police officers and the firefighters and the people in medical field have gotten tested, the numbers are super low of people getting tested,” Walker said. “If that number doesn’t go up soon, the facility in Greenfield is going to be moved to a different city that has a bigger population.”

The testing site, located inside the Greenfield Library, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can test upwards of 132 people per day, but Greenfield has seen more in the range of 12 to 19 tests per day, with the highest numbers approaching 90.

“People say, ‘Why get tested?’ We need to see who is asymptomatic,” Walker said. “In order to get back to work and do things, we need as much data as we can get.”

Monterey County District 3 Supervisor Chris Lopez added, “The coronavirus has proven to be found in populations in an asymptomatic form. We need to better understand the prevalence in our community and to help those who may be carriers to self isolate in order to stop the spread as quickly as possible.”

According to Walker, getting the word out to labor contractors and field workers would help get the numbers up, as well as reveal data in how the virus is spreading among agricultural workers.

The process for testing takes minutes from the time of arrival until the test, then the test is a matter of seconds. Walker filmed his own test to demonstrate the process, in which a swab was placed up his nose deep into his sinuses.

“It kind of burns slightly, one or two on a scale of 10,” Walker said. “No pain at all. For some people it causes them to sneeze or something.”

Walker described his call to schedule a test lasting about four minutes, where he answered a few questions that included what method he would like the results of his test sent through, email or text. He then obtained a code, which is used at the site rather than presenting ID of any sort.

“A lot of the undocumented might be afraid, but documentation has nothing to do with this, they don’t even ask that,” Walker said.

Insurance is asked about during the scheduling call, but is not required. Lopez confirmed the state, not cities or county, is funding the test sites.

“Our contribution was the facilities that we assisted them in securing,” Lopez said about local help with the sites.

While Monterey County residents can go to other testing sites, including in Salinas or Watsonville, the site in Greenfield is centrally located for South Monterey County.

“We’re pretty much the heart of the Valley,” Walker said. “We want to keep this facility here in Greenfield as long as we can.”

Lopez said the advantage of having the resource in South Monterey County is multi-fold, including the state’s requirement for moving further in its roadmap phasing being predicated upon the availability of testing to urban residents within 30 miles and rural residents within 60 miles.

“With our vast land mass in South County, we need this site to continue to qualify for future openings,” he said. “… Eventually it will rotate, but we are hoping that is after we achieve better outcomes on reopening and advancing our understanding of the prevalence in our community.”

Lopez noted there are no planned rotation dates yet, but that the state could switch the site based on low testing turnout numbers.

To schedule an appointment in Greenfield, call 888-634-1123.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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