College of the Canyons drive-thru testing center expected to open Wednesday

Lot 7 at College of the Canyons will be used for the drive thru testing center. Photo courtesy of College of the Canyons.
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A drive-thru testing center for COVID-19 is scheduled to open Wednesday at College of the Canyons, according to county officials.

The site will use a self-administered oral swab that takes five to 10 minutes, according to Pono Barnes, a public information officer from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Barnes said Tuesday that, while the prerequisites for being tested have expanded over the past few weeks, the tests will remain limited to L.A. County residents who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or those who have been quarantined due to exposure.

“The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, difficulty breathing and other flu-like symptoms,” said Barnes. “If you meet those qualifiers and are experiencing symptoms, then you can go onto that registration website and schedule your test.”

Listed on the county’s website, there is an option entitled “How do I sign up?” where residents can receive the information they need to see if they qualify, Barnes said. They can then click on the link and see what testing sites are available near them in L.A. County.

Santa Clarita’s testing center is expected to be located in the Lot 7 parking structure at College of the Canyons and be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week.

Once they pick your time slot online — with wait times varying by demand — people are given their instructions on how to drive in. Once they arrive, the process can take upward of 10 minutes from start to finish, said Barnes.

“Santa Clarita will be the oral swab (test), and that kit is handed over to the patient,” said Barnes, explaining the process of testing. “The onsite staff actually give them directions through the window to maintain social, physical distancing away, and they’re all equipped with PPE.”

“The patient actually self-administers and packages the test, and then they continue on driving on down where the test is dropped into a bin for cataloging and to be sent out to the lab,” added Barnes.

It then takes three to five days for results to be returned via email, and whenever positive tests come back, they are followed up with a phone call as well, where officials give further information about the diagnosis.

While patients await their results after being tested, they are asked to go into isolation, Barnes said.

“College of the Canyons appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with our county partners and to support their efforts to expand available testing for Santa Clarita Valley residents,” said Eric Harnish, a spokesman for the college. “By making the parking structure available as a convenient testing location, we hope it will make a significant difference in our community’s efforts to fight COVID-19.”

The test is free, and Barnes believes the site will be able to test anywhere from 100 to 500 people a day, depending on the site and the amount of personnel available that day at the site.

“We’re quite efficient, and the goal is to get more efficient and test more people as we scale this up and offer it to a larger population of county residents,” said Barnes.

Officials emphasized that the testing centers are taking people who have previously signed up for an appointment.

For more information on how to sign up or see if you are eligible for an appointment, visit covid19.lacounty.gov.

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