- Reporters Desk
By Joseph Baroud, Reporter
Without a decline present in positive coronavirus testing throughout California, U.S. Health Fairs has partnered with Carson to open a test center behind its City Hall to accommodate residents. The test site opened April 27, and is seeing a Los Angeles County average of 400 people daily throughout the first two weeks of operation.
As the coronavirus pandemic has caused the nation to shut down in recent months, we are beginning to see restrictions ease. The numbers haven’t yet begun to decrease so it’s essential for these test centers to remain operational. Even though a site opened the week before on April 21, at UCLA Harbor General, for some, it is a lot of trouble making the trip across town.
Carson and its staff decided to take measures into their own hands and work with U.S. Health Fairs, a private provider of medical service. This gives the mayor and other city workers more direct information, which they can use to readily influence and impose on the community to keep them safe.
“We haven’t yet seen a decline in positive COVID cases in Southern California, the South Bay or in our City of Carson,” Mayor Albert Robles said. “LA County is coordinating a gradual reopening within parameters established by the governor and Carson is following their expert advice as we do not have our own public health expert. But when we see an issue of concern, like the delayed testing coming to Carson, we will pursue our own path and resolution, like contracting our own testing location outside the parameters of LA County.”
Carson residents can go online to ushealthfairs.com and register for the test. More importantly, the site accepts asymptomatic patients, when other sites require you to show symptoms, which in some cases might be too late. You’re urged to use your proper information because there has been a delay in people receiving their test results. Both false information and technical difficulties have had their fair share of the blame, but U.S. Health Fairs said they were on it.
When you arrive a security guard greets you and ensures the person in the car is in compliance. Then, off you go to the back of the car line while you await a vacancy in one of four test tents. When a spot opens, you drive into it. You’re handed a swab and asked to do a nasal swab. Once you’re done, you drop it in a bag that the worker is holding. Then you leave your information which should match the information you used to register. Barring any technical difficulties, you will receive your results in two days.
“The delay has occurred due to some technical difficulties that U.S. Health Fairs was experiencing early on,” Robles said. “U.S. Health Fairs has identified solutions to the initial issues and is now in the process of making sure everyone is timely notified of their results. Let’s be fair, up until a few weeks ago, LA County was telling everyone the results could take 14 days. And even now LA County still regularly takes longer than anticipated. But both the LA County locations and Carson site are getting better and better every day.”
Even people who input accurate information have had to wait about a week, even though the site says results will be ready within a couple of days. The bad thing is, if you’re positive, a week is a long time. But efforts are being made to make the website smoother.
“Whenever you introduce something new and as unprecedented as this, there are always unexpected possible challenges,” Robles said. “We experienced a couple of internet issues as people signed up that were on the technical side that have been resolved. As the first week of testing turned into the second week, the process began to run even better. But our residents have been very understanding and appreciative that we succeeded in bringing a testing site to Carson.”
Mayor Robles explained that COVID-19 antibody testing will soon be available. Antibody testing determines who is immune to the disease and for what reason. This will give researchers the vital information needed to develop a cure.
“Carson and United Health Fairs are both eager to begin antibody testing,” Robles said. “Once logistics matters are vetted, it will be incorporated into our [Food and Drug Administration] approved nasal swab testing as well. We hope to have this within the next two weeks. And, when we do, Carson will once again be leading the way just like we did with universal testing two weeks.”
Anyone who tests positive at the site will be notified as soon as possible with further instructions. They will be told how to treat themselves and prevent spreading the virus amongst their family and community. But the results will go directly to the Los Angeles County Public Health office and Carson officials have no way of knowing who has the virus, which goes against taking the biggest precaution a community can have: to keep others away from infected areas and persons.
The law regarding contact tracing and jurisdiction and information irritates the mayor. He understands due legislative processes, but in emergencies, an ordinance like this would do wonders for a town which is still seeing high rates of this virus. With various prior outbreaks and lessons now available to world health organizations, the mayor can’t help but scratch his head when wondering why contact tracing isn’t handled at the most local levels.
“Anyone who tests positive is promptly contacted by a U.S. Health Fairs physician and pursuant to law the physician notifies LA County,” Robles said. “The city doesn’t get any specific information regarding the individual to protect their [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] rights – therefore [it’s] impossible for Carson to do [its] own tracing program. Tracing is supposed to be handled through the LA County of Public Health.”