COVID-19 testing site opens at Anaheim Convention Center for Orange County residents

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Starting Wednesday, Orange County residents will be able to get tested at no cost for COVID-19 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Orange County officials unveiled some details of the testing program at Tuesday's Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The testing will be offered 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays -- by appointment only -- for anyone who has symptoms, workers in essential occupations like nurses, doctors and first responders, and those who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus. Also, food industry workers and residents and employees of skilled nursing facilities will be able to get tested.

Recipients will extract a specimen inside their vehicle and give it to a worker without any contact.

For those with insurance, the insurer will be billed, and those without insurance will not have to pay as federal funding will cover the cost.

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The testing will be done on the west side of the convention center in a parking lot and parking structure off West Street, just south of Katella Avenue.

Officials are initially aiming to do 600 to 800 tests daily, and hope to reach 1,200 daily within two weeks.

West Street traffic is expected to be affected, so motorists are being warned to avoid the area if possible.

The city is providing the testing site for no charge, and the county is picking up the cost for testing with federal funding.

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Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said it is the "first large-scale COVID testing drive-thru" for the county.

The advantage is it is "centrally located" for residents of Santa Ana and Anaheim, which lead the county in COVID-19 cases, Do said.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu told the supervisors that he is "proud" the city is partnering with the county on testing with a goal of  "opening it up to many more."

He added, "This will help us address a surge of cases in the community and across Orange County. It will allow us to get back to reopening (the economy) safely when the time is right."

Dr. Clayton Chau, the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and interim health officer for the county, said officials were finalizing a website that residents will use to sign up for testing.

"We will be launching a soft first date tomorrow," Chau told supervisors.

When the county recently offered a mobile testing program in the area, reservations filled up within 24 hours, Chau said.

"I expect we'll have a fair amount tomorrow ...," he said. "Demand is pretty high in this county."

The city of Irvine began a monthlong drive-thru testing operation on Monday, and all the appointments through early August were quickly filled.

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