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Mexican Consulate in L.A. opens new coronavirus testing center

Medical assistant Marianne Orantes prepares to see people being tested for COVID-19 at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.
Medical assistant Marianne Orantes prepares to see people being tested for COVID-19 at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. The free testing site opened Wednesday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A coronavirus testing center has opened at the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate in an effort to better serve Latinos, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis established the new testing site with state and federal funding from the CARES Act after identifying vulnerable communities in the county, she said. Launched in partnership with the Honduran, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Mexican consulates, the new site will be open for appointments and walk-ins Wednesday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m and administer 1,500 tests a week.

“I know there are a lot of needs here,” Solis said during a Wednesday morning news conference. “The numbers don’t lie.”

At Clinica Romero, which serves the predominantly Latino Boyle Heights, Pico-Union and Westlake areas, between 30% and 40% of those who come in to get tested for COVID-19 test positive, said the clinic’s executive director, Carlos Vaquerano.

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In Westlake, 2,081 people have tested positive for COVID-19. In Pico-Union, more than 1,500 have tested positive.

“The numbers are alarming,” Vaquerano said.

Mexican Consul General Marcela Celorio stressed that the consulate was a safe space for the Latino community and that anyone — regardless of immigration status or whether they have health insurance or not — would be able to receive free testing at the location.

Celorio and Solis appealed to Latino essential workers and those who are in the country illegally, urging them to practice social distancing, wear masks and refrain from visiting family members during the pandemic.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, left, and Mexican Consul General Marcela Celorio
At a news conference Wednesday., L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, left, and Mexican Consul General Marcela Celorio announce the new COVID-19 testing site at the Mexican Consulate office in Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

“Having COVID-19 isn’t something to be ashamed of,” Celorio said. “It could happen to anyone and you have to ask for help. It doesn’t matter if you’re documented or undocumented.”

“No one will discriminate against you if you don’t have citizenship. People in this area trust the people that are going to be operating this, and that they are not going to be intimidated [or] told they can’t get tested,” Solis said.

Solis said she hopes the site will continue operating through December, or as long as the funding remains available. Translation services for those who speak Zapoteco, Quiche and other languages will be available.

Solis also recently announced openings of new testing sites in other vulnerable areas, including Huntington Park and Azusa, as well as a medical clinic in Bell for southeast L.A. County residents.

To make an appointment, the public can call (888) 634-1123.


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