While testing sites have been getting established across the Bay Area over the last ten days, the city of Hayward has just opened what we believe is the first fully open, no-referral-required testing site that is free to the public.
The testing center is opening Monday morning at Hayward Fire Station 7 (28270 Huntwood Avenue) and only has the capacity to administer 350 tests per day — so the city hopes that it is not immediately overwhelmed. No insurance or doctor referral is required, however there will be a screening process to determine whether you will receive a test, as the city explained in a release on Sunday. If a test is determined to be necessary, nasal and throat swabs will be taken. Results will be available between six and 24 hours after samples are taken.
The center is staffed by Hayward Fire Department firefighter-paramedics, and supported by ambulance company EMTs.
The new facility is intended for sick individuals showing symptoms who underlying health conditions, as well as first-responders and healthcare workers who need to know quickly whether or not they need to self-isolate and/or seek treatment. People arriving to receive tests will be subject to a two-step screening process, have their temperature taken, and will be asked about known exposures — so not everyone who wants to be tested can be tested here.
Tomorrow, the City of #Hayward will open a testing facility so sick people, first responders, and health-care workers with recent suspected exposures to the novel coronavirus can be tested for infection. Details: https://t.co/KKHXzX8hDD#HaywardCa #HeartoftheBay pic.twitter.com/TDzHbfvgTB— City of Hayward (@cityofhayward) March 23, 2020
Still, tests will not be limited to Hayward city residents. As City Manager Kelly McAdoo tells ABC 7, "At this point, there is not another public testing site in Alameda County, so until we are able to get other cities up and operational, we will not turn folks away if they are experiencing symptoms."
In San Francisco, drop-in testing is available with doctor referrals at UCSF Parnassus, Kaiser Permanente, and at some city-owned sites including a former clinic on 17th Street in the Castro. At Kaiser, this is being done using a drive-through tent setup with very little contact with those administering the tests.
Other appointment-only testing centers have sprung up in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and they have also seen significant demand and long lines, per ABC 7.
As the New York Post reports, a drive-through testing center that opened Monday morning in one of the hardest-hit areas in New Jersey, in Paramus, was overwhelmed by demand and reached its capacity two hours before it opened.
More on-demand testing facilities are expected to open in the Bay Area soon — however, as testing capacity remains limited, people experiencing even flu-like symptoms who are under the age of 65 are being told to stay put at home and seek advice from their doctors over the phone or by email. Of the tens of thousands of people tested in California so far, about 10 percent are coming back positive for COVID-19 — meaning that even those with similar symptoms are simply sick with something else.
Facilities like the one in Hayward are meant for the most at-risk cases and for healthcare workers who need to know quickly whether aggressive treatment or isolation are immediately necessary. Onset of symptoms typically takes place within a week of exposure, with the vast majority seeing symptoms within 10 days, if they are symptomatic at all. So if you've been relatively isolated most of that time, you likely do not need to be tested. Fever, headache, and a new or worsening cough are the primary symptoms to look out for.