Free Coronavirus Testing Site Opens In Hayward

Holly Quan
March 23, 2020 - 11:12 am

Confirmed coronavirus cases in California have now surpassed 1,800, with many of them in the Bay Area. Testing is underway and expanding in the region. A new site has opened up this week in Hayward at Fire Station 7 on Huntwood Avenue.

The street in front of the fire station is blocked off and multiple tents are set up across the street in Tennyson Park where the screening and swabbing will take place.

People showed up as early as 6:30 a.m. Monday in hopes of getting one of 350 testing slots for the day, with 50 to 60 masked people in line by 9 a.m, some of whom were homeless residents or people who live nearby.

By 10 a.m., the walk-up line stretched around Tennyson Park. People mostly practicing social distancing while waiting.

Three desks are set up for people to drive up and get the initial screening, which asks people about their symptoms, while the first responders and hospital workers get testing priority inside the fire station.

While testing officials understand that many people who show up will go for reassurance, they emphasize that only those with symptoms—a fever above 100 degrees, shortness of breath, and coughing—will be tested. It appeared that one in five cars was being turned away for those who do not at least have a fever.

Subsequent screenings will result in nose and throat swabbing, with results available in anywhere from six to 24 hours. 

Donnie Nicholson of the Hayward Fire Department told KCBS Radio that they are not turning away people just because they do not live in Hayward.

The center will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the next three weeks. 

Priority is for first responders and hospital workers, with the idea to take the strain off of hospital emergency rooms, and to alleviate the demand on medical supplies.