BERKELEY, CA—People can sign up now to be tested for COVID-19 at a walk-up kiosk where they can swab their own mouth and place it in a receptacle — all while under supervision.
The kiosk will be at Berkeley Adult School parking lot at 1701 San Pablo for a full week. City officials said testing is available Tuesday, Aug. 18 through Sunday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Make an appointment online. Test results are expected within 24-48 hours.
Berkeley Public Health, under the authority of City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley as the Director of Emergency Services, has been coordinating this walk-up kiosk on a pilot basis in an effort to increase the amount, speed and accessibility of testing in Berkeley.
Over the eight previous days, the kiosk has led to testing of about 300 people a day.
Kiosk pilot expands access to testing
Curative, Inc is a California-based company supplying the self-administered oral fluid COVID-19 test. The Curative test is widely used for drive-up and walk-up testing across the country, processing approximately 70,000 COVID-19 samples per day.
This pilot, which offers the same test in a walk-up kiosk, is part of the city’s efforts to expand access to testing for everyone in our community.
These and other Berkeley Public Health efforts have sought to increase testing for uninsured and vulnerable populations, especially Black and Latino, who are currently infected at 4.5 times the rate of white people nationally. The curative kiosk tests are free to those without insurance, as are the two other Berkeley sites coordinated through the city.
People with insurance should always coordinate with their provider, as your primary physician would be important for any follow-up care. For those with insurance, be prepared to provide that information. Federal and state rules mandate that all patients with full-service Medi-Cal or commercial insurance in California will have copays, coinsurance, and deductibles waived for COVID-19 testing and screening.
“Our goal is to use what is within our means to expand the availability of testing,” said Williams-Ridley. “This pilot testing program gives us a tool to see how we might expand access to more parts of our community.”
City officials: Testing is at the core of Berkeley’s COVID-19 response
According to city officials, testing is a crucial part of the city’s public health response — one element in a public health infrastructure that partners closely with Alameda County and the state and is more effective when supported on a national level.
For every positive test of a Berkeley resident, City of Berkeley Public Health staff investigate and trace to identify others potentially exposed. The quicker people get tested, the quicker that response begins.
To provide increased testing for vulnerable populations, the city has sent a mobile testing unit to senior housing complexes, organizations with connections to Latinx and Black people, and skilled nursing facilities. The city has also provided testing to hundreds of people working in the city, such as essential workers in grocery stores.
Providing easier, more accessible options to target populations is essential to keeping Berkeley healthy, said Lisa Warhuus, PhD, Director of the City’s Health Housing and Community Services department.
“By protecting those most vulnerable to this disease,” said Warhuus, “we better protect our community as a whole.”
This article originally appeared on the Berkeley Patch