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

SALINAS VALLEY — Free pop-up Covid-19 testing sites have been emerging lately in South Monterey County as part of an effort to increase testing access after a new site was added to Castroville to the existing lineup of Salinas and Seaside.

When available, local residents are welcome to partake in the pop-up testing program, operated through a partnership between Monterey County Health Department and Central Coast Visiting Nurses Association. Most recently, pop-up testing sites were held in Greenfield and King City on Dec. 1 and 2, respectively.

“The new testing sites in South County are to make sure we continue to make access to testing available throughout the county,” said Chris Lopez, Monterey County supervisor for District 3, which includes South Monterey County. “Planning them takes time and we try to move them around to minimize the barrier of travel as much as possible.”

Greenfield had a testing site through the summer, but those resources were relocated to Seaside after low community response to the free testing. Seaside has since had higher turnout rates than Greenfield.

Lopez said a new drive-thru testing site is being considered for Soledad, possibly at Soledad High School or Soledad Library. Details are still being worked out with the state and its testing vendor.

Meanwhile, the popup events provide access on a limited basis.

Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County’s health officer, said the county is aiming to provide more Covid-19 testing access and opportunities for residents with and without symptoms.

“They may want to check to make sure that they’re not spreading Covid without knowing it,” Moreno said.

He said residents who may not have symptoms but may have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 should consider testing, as well as anyone else that may not have symptoms or may not have been exposed but is caring for someone who is high risk for serious illness or higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

Moreno said two prior popup testing sites at the Health Department parking lot exceeded expectations of 150 per day, with one day totaling 215 individuals tested.

“It was a little cold, but they were patient and they waited,” he said.

In addition to the three testing sites, Monterey County has confirmed a partnership with OptumServe to form a traveling team to do tests at facilities. When Soledad is brought into the mix, it will be the fourth operating in-person site. The popup responses won’t be used to determine location viability.

“The new sites that we are getting from the state are from a request put in by the Health Department when the state announced their new testing contract,” Lopez said. “The testing sites running in South County (last) week won’t have an impact on whether or not those testing sites continue, but we do wish to see them fully utilized.”

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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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