Santa Ana will provide mobile COVID-19 testing for most affected neighborhoods

The city of Santa Ana offers free COVID-19 testing on Aug. 26.
The city of Santa Ana offers free COVID-19 testing through its Mobile Resource Center on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Santa Ana rolled out a Mobile Resource Center on Wednesday that will provide free COVID-19 testing, free masks and information on assistance programs for neighborhoods most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The mobile center will over the next several weeks visit the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city, which has the highest case count in Orange County.

The center will run tests twice a day — morning and afternoon.

“We know a lot of residents have had problems making appointments — it’s been hard to get access to testing,” city spokesman Paul Eakins said. “It’s not easy if you don’t have a car. Like half of our residents use public transportation.”

A caravan of vehicles will pull into each neighborhood and set up tents and tables where the testing can be administered. CARES ambassadors will go door to door and provide residents with a bag with masks and a resource guide — available in English and Spanish — on various COVID-19 assistance programs, including utility and rental assistance.

Maria Cuamatzi with Medica, left, gives instructions on how to complete a COVID-19 test.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Residents don’t need to have insurance or be symptomatic to be tested. Test results come back within two to three days, Eakins said.

The city is contracting with Medica Healthcare for the testing.

The city will notify neighborhoods of the mobile testing a day ahead of time with door hanger notices. Announcements will not be made citywide to reduce overcrowding and help the center observe social distancing, Eakins said.

The city specifically chose multifamily housing neighborhoods in ZIP codes that have the highest case counts of the virus. Many residents in those neighborhoods are essential workers.

O.C. Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau estimated the Costa Mesa testing site would process about 500 tests per day before ramping up to around 1,000 daily tests by month’s end.

Eakins said the mobile center is an important part in getting the virus under control in the city. The high-density nature of the neighborhoods makes it easy for the virus to spread when one member of a household catches it.

“Sometimes the housing has a large number of people living in single units,” Eakins said. “So when someone is sick, it makes it very difficult for somebody to stay away from the others.”

The mobile testing is funded with part of $28.6 million of federal CARES act money the city was recently granted by the state.

Through the federal funding, the city is also providing rental assistance, landlord assistance, grants for small businesses, financial assistance for artists affected by the virus and utility bill assistance, among other programs.

Roberto Rosilez, 11, uses a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 in Santa Ana on Wednesday.
Roberto Rosilez, 11, uses a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 in Santa Ana on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The city is also funding “isolation” assistance, where family members can stay in a hotel away from infected members of their family.

The city is also providing testing for all Santa Ana residents on Saturdays and Sundays at Santa Ana College.

Santa Ana’s COVID-19 case count was 9,132 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Anaheim has the next highest number of cases of any Orange County city with 8,073.

“We are going to these neighborhoods for a reason — they are most at risk,” Eakins said.

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