COVID-19 testing declines as vaccines roll out, health officials urge people to keep getting tested

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The free COVID-19 testing site across the street from Chuckchansi Park Tuesday had three cars lined up waiting for testing to begin at noon. It was a stark contrast to the parking lot in December when the free testing began.

As people are seeking out the COVID-19 vaccine, testing is taking a hit.

"We get people coming but they think that this is a vaccination clinic and this is a free COVID testing clinic and it's a 24-hour turnaround," said Kimberly McCoy the Project Director for Fresno Building Healthy Communities.

McCoy, who has been at the testing the location in downtown Fresno since it opened, said testing started out strong and slowly started to decline.

"Once the vaccination hit Fresno County, that's when we started seeing our numbers come down," McCoy said.

In response, several testing locations have closed, including the Fresno Fairgrounds.

"As you can imagine, with vaccines being available, testing demand has dramatically decreased," said Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias. Arias worked with Major League Baseball to make the downtown testing site available starting in December, but Tuesday he announced the testing site will close on March 30, 2021.

"The city is going to focus from providing COVID testing and all the contractors that have been providing COVID testing to providing vaccine deployment," Arias said.

Dr. Rais Vohra, the Interim Health Officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said he understands people's desire for the vaccine, but said he wished more people were getting tested.

He said even though vaccines are rolling out, testing is critical.

"Because it's important for us to just stay on top of any outbreaks that might be happening and the best way that we do that is by testing lots of people," said Dr. Vohra.

On top of that, Dr. Vohra said each week that the county has less testing than the state average, it works against the chances of the county being allowed to reopen.

There is still free testing available across multiple locations in Fresno County and officials say until you get vaccinated, it's important you keep getting tested.

"If your tier is not up for the vaccine, then make sure that you're staying tested and you're practicing safe and healthy, washing your hands and wearing your mask." McCoy said.

If you're looking for free COVID-19 testing you can find locations here:

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