City of Berkeley opens new COVID-19 testing site for the most vulnerable to increase data

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The city of Berkeley announced Tuesday they will be opening a COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, testing site for community members, including those lacking health care, firefighters, nurses, police officers and essential city employees.

The new site is a partnership with LifeLong Medical,  an urgent care center in Berkeley, as well as UC Berkeley and was intended to improve data on COVID-19 in the city, tracing those who have been exposed through contact and prevent further spread of the virus, according to an email from the city of Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez.

Hernandez added, however, that not all people who may have been infected or who are experiencing symptoms need to be tested. Those with no symptoms or mild symptoms should just stay home unless their symptoms worsen, according to Hernandez.

“When I declared a shelter in place for Berkeley on March 16, we only had three lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases – all of which had known exposures,” Hernandez said in the email. “But, upon looking at regional data and trends from other counties, I and the other six Health Officers knew that this invisible threat was spreading in all our jurisdictions.”

Hernandez requested in the email that those with health care providers also not go to the site to allow the city to focus its resources on those with more pressing needs.

According to the email, this new site will work in conjunction with a site at UC Berkeley, which also started this week, to build data about the disease and give officials a better picture of its spread. Hernandez also said, in addition to increasing data, a crucial part of fighting the virus is members of the public staying at home with the exception of essential activities, with the ultimate goal preventing a surge of patients in hospitals.

“I thank all of you who are following the orders. Please continue to do so,” Hernandez said in the email. “We are on a good path in a treacherous time, but we are not at the end.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.

Kate Finman is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected].org and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.