Riverside County opens third coronavirus drive-through testing site

Drive-though testing facility for Coachella Valley residents
A passenger gets a coronavirus test at a drive-though facility for Coachella Valley residents in the parking lot of the Southwest church in Indian Wells last week. That site was relocated to the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

As coronavirus cases jump to nearly 300 over the weekend in Riverside County, officials have announced plans to open a third drive-through testing site on Wednesday.

On Monday, the county reported 291 positive cases, a nearly 60-person increase from the previous day, records show. Virus-related deaths increased by one over the weekend, bringing the county’s total to nine.

The drive-through testing site will be stationed at Harvest Christian Fellowship church, 6115 Arlington Avenue, in Riverside. In order to receive a COVID-19 test, residents must show symptoms, such as fever or a sore throat, and call (800) 945-6171 to schedule an appointment. Operators will assess if residents meet the criteria to have an appointment. Those who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus — by another person who has tested positive — may also be tested at the site, county officials said.

The Coachella Valley drive-through testing site in Indian Wells, which had been in operation since March 17, was relocated to the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio on Tuesday, county officials said. The testing site will be housed at the same location as the federal medical station, County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said. Testing will take place in the parking lots 5 and 5A near Arabia Street, between Highway 111 and Dr Carreon Boulevard.

Riverside County medical personnel screen a car of four people at a coronavirus drive-though testing facility in Indian Wells.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

“The Riverside County Fairgrounds is a great location for testing,” Perez said. “The fairgrounds have been a safe haven for families. Many visit this location for the Date Festival and for health care services, and it makes perfect sense with the federal medical station also located there.”

The county’s other drive-through testing site is at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore, where physicians have been “seeing hundreds of patients” daily, Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer said. To make an appointment at the Lake Elsinore site, residents can also schedule online.

More than 3,000 residents have been tested at the drive-through locations and the Riverside University Health System clinics so far, according to county officials.

Dr. Mahbuba Khan, a physician at the Riverside Medical Center, who has been working at the Lake Elsinore site, said that she’s grateful for healthcare workers who have been volunteering their time and making the testing process more efficient.

“I think our team [is] doing a really good job talking to patients, guiding them through, giving them instructions, calming them down, telling them what COVID-19 is [and] what to expect,” Khan said in a video on the county’s website. “I can see people leaving [and] smiling.”

Khan said that a patient told her that when the staff waved at them as they left, it made them feel “really good about coming here and [that they felt] really warm.”

A nurse takes a break at a drive-though testing facility for Coachella Valley residents.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

As the county ramps up their testing efforts, officials are seeking more medical volunteers. They are calling for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, assistants and technicians to help prepare for an influx of patients. Only licensed practitioners or students pursuing degrees in any of these areas can volunteer.

County officials are also requesting that the public send donations to support hospitals. The Riverside University Health System is asking for ventilators, cardiac monitors, masks (including surgical, N-95 or handmade), personal protective equipment (such as hoods and face guards), isolation gowns and gloves. For more information on how to volunteer or donate supplies, visit the county’s website.