Kern County plans to open three free novel coronavirus testing sites for residents by next week, following in the footsteps of Los Angeles County, which announced free tests for its residents Wednesday.
Two of the testing sites will be located in Bakersfield, while the third will be in Mojave. The county hopes that by providing free tests, all residents with symptoms or local first responders and healthcare workers, will be able to be tested for COVID-19 regardless of their socioeconomic circumstance.
“We’re hopeful that this removes every single barrier that someone may have had in the past to being tested,” county spokesperson Megan Person said during a Thursday press conference.
The two Bakersfield locations will be at the Richard Prado Senior Center, located at 2101 Ridge St.; and the Kern County fairgrounds, located at 1142 S. P St.
The Mojave location will be at the Mojave Veterans Memorial Building at 15580 O St.
The announcement came the same day the Kern County Public Health Services Department announced the seventh death within county borders from coronavirus. Three of the deaths occurred over the last six days.
So far the department has confirmed 902 cases of coronavirus in Kern, with 524 of those patients recovering from the virus.
"Locally, we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 each day which indicates that this disease is still spreading in our community," Health Department spokesperson Michelle Corson wrote in an email to The Californian. "That is why it is important to continue to follow the Governor's order to stay home and only leave for essential services."
On Thursday morning, Corson said while the county hasn't been able to provide specific information about where positive cases originate — categorizing each case into one of five regions in Kern — the department hoped to revise its public information policy by the end of the week.
The county plans to release more information about the new testing sites next week, and will soon launch a webpage where appointments can be made. Testing will only be available by appointment, and residents must provide an ID proving they live within county borders before testing will commence.
Spanish translation services will be provided at each site.
Person said the three new sites would increase the county’s testing capacity by nearly 400 per day.
Previously, residents could only be tested through a physician or by going to an Urgent Care, which sometimes requires high fees, Person said.
While few details were available Thursday, the county did provide the times the sites would be open.
The Richard Prado site will be open Sunday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the Kern County Fairgrounds and Mojave sites will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.