The city of Half Moon Bay opened the first city-run COVID-19 testing site this week.
The site, located in front of the Ted Adcock Community Center on Kelly Avenue, is scheduled to be open from 4 to 7 p.m. every Monday until the end of the year. Anyone over the age of 5 eligible for a free test, which guarantees results in a 24- to 48-hour turnaround window. It is available for anyone — not just city residents.
The test consists of a self-administered 20-second mouth swab. Patients are asked not to eat or drink 20 minutes before taking the test. Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said each Tuesday morning, city staff will send the tests to the Curative lab in Los Angeles.
After trying out the tests last week, city staff got their results back quickly.
“The key to it is there really is no contact,” Chidester said. “At no point does anybody but the person being tested touch the test.”
On Monday, the testing site was open for the first time, with Community Emergency Response Team members staffing and receiving training on the check-in and swabbing process. Access to the site is limited to volunteers and patients actively being tested and the nearby skate park is closed during testing time. Chidester said that 30 people preregistered for Monday’s testing.
The mouth test is self-administered, so masked volunteers stand behind plexiglass and walk patients through the process. Those who are pre-registered simply have to check in and new patients will be asked for their name and contact information to receive results.
Unlike county-run Verily testing, the site is designed for patients to walk up rather than drive through. Chidester said the city is looking for more volunteers who speak Spanish or Mandarin to help run the site.
Chidester said the city is planning to do targeted on-site testing at Senior Coastsiders, Abundant Grace Coastside Worker and local farms in partnership with Ayudando Latinos a Soñar and Puente de la Costa Sur.
“If there are any other special groups that it would be really helpful to go to them, we will do that,” Chidester said. “That’s the nice thing about this, is it’s really simple to set up. We can take this on the road on a smaller scale.”
As part of its efforts to expand local testing, San Mateo County provides the test kits, paper information, training and logistical support to the city and other nearby cities. Chidester said that the city won’t have access to specific data it collects as part of the testing other than the total positive cases each week.
Chidester said it’s the volunteers who are going to make the site sustainable. On Monday, dozens of volunteers were staffing or shadowing others to learn how to walk patients through the site. Eighty-year-old Half Moon Bay resident Dell Williams was among them. The longtime Coastside Hope supporter said he was inspired to volunteer to help make sure testing is available to Coastside residents.
“More is better,” Williams said.
Anyone who wishes to sign up in advance for the weekly testing can visit https://test.curativeinc.com/walkup/9156.