Large Numbers Flocking to Hayward's Free COVID-19 Testing Center

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Large numbers of people who think they may have the novel coronavirus are flocking  to a free testing site at a Hayward fire station.

The COVID-19 Testing Center at Fire Station No. 7 at 28270 Huntwood Ave. tested 207 people on Monday and another 460 people on Tuesday, Hayward city spokesman Chuck Finnie said.

The center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, but it closed early on Wednesday because the center ran out of test kits, Finnie said.

Large numbers of people who think they may have the novel coronavirus are flocking to a free testing site at a Hayward fire station. Cheryl Hurd reports.

The testing center is scheduled to reopen on Thursday.

The city is conducting the tests in conjunction with Avellino Labs, a Menlo Park biotech company that got approval for the tests from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Avellino Labs spokesman Eric Bernabie said on Wednesday that the company initially developed the test for its employees in Korea and Japan, where the coronavirus emerged in large numbers of people before it became 

widespread in the U.S.

Bernabei said Avellino then made the test available to local governments in the U.S. and Hayward was the first city to accept its offer of assistance.

He said other municipalities also have expressed interest in doing the tests and Avellino is advising them to contact Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras to get information on the steps he had to take to make the test available.

Hayward officials said the test is available to anyone who meets new broadened test criteria, regardless of where they live or their immigration status.

Symptoms or conditions qualifying a member of the general public for testing are a fever above 100 degrees or other issues such as shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms and recent travel to  Europe or Asia.

Other conditions are recent exposure to confirmed or suspected coronavirus, other chronic diseases or conditions, such as blood disorders, lung or neurological disease or a compromised immune system, being over the age of 65, being pregnant or being homeless. No referral from a physician is needed.

First responders and health care workers with recent suspected exposures to coronavirus can call Hayward's COVID-19 hotline at (510) 583-4949 to make an appointment for testing.

Hayward officials announced new traffic and line management controls on Wednesday.

They said people will be able to join drive-up and walk-up lines until 10 a.m. each morning and again between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the afternoon, or until the test site approaches the maximum number of tests that can be performed that day.

The city said the changes are being put in place to ensure safe distancing between pedestrians, manageable vehicle traffic, and that enough tests are available for people with qualifying symptoms and conditions who are waiting to be tested.

Bernabei said the test involves swabbing of nasal cavities and the back of the throat.

He said the samples are put into a solution that kills the virus and then taken to Avellino's lab in Menlo Park to be analyzed.

Bernabei said the test results are available within four to seven hours once the samples are brought to Menlo Park.

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