Officials aiming to bring COVID-19 testing to underserved areas

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A long line of cars weaves through the Fresno Fairgrounds parking lot Wednesday morning, as people wait for a free COVID-19 test.

Miguel Rodriguez with United Health Centers said this is one of their largest and most-utilized testing sites.

Today, they anticipate testing between 850 - 1,000 people.

That's more than last week and they only anticipate those numbers to increase.

"We have been working very closely with our labs making sure we have a good dialogue happening in terms of our supply and capacity," said Rodriguez.

That's not the case for other locations.

The Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, known as FIRM, is assisting with Fresno County's equity project to bring testing to underserved areas.

With the help of UCSF, they put on between 10-15 testing events a week.

Executive director Christine Barker said they often have to turn people away, but not before giving them recommendations to other sites.

"It is heartbreaking, but it is every event," she said.

There are also challenges when it comes to rapid tests. Because of demand, results can be delayed beyond the advertised time.

"Same-day results is a more accurate way to talk about what we are able to provide," said Barker.

Positivity rates are also on the rise. United Health has 22 testing locations across the Central Valley.

After combining data from all their sites, Rodriguez says they have seen growing positivity rates.

In October, they were nearly at 5%, that number then doubled the following month. So far, December is at nearly at 8% with about three weeks remaining in the month.

"Probably the next peak to happen will probably the week of the 20th, which is the week of Christmas," he said.

The Fresno Fairgrounds does free testing every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
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