Free COVID-19 Testing Up and Running in the Gym

David+Pomaville%2C+Fresno+County%27s+Public+Health+Director%2C+presented+data+about+COVID-19+infection+in+Fresno+County+during+FCC+President+Carole+Goldsmith%27s+weekly+livestream%2C+Monday%2C+May+1%2C+2019.+Since+the+livestream%2C+COVID-19+cases+have+increased+by+nearly+124%25.

Photo by: Image courtesy of May 1, 2020 FCC livestream update.

David Pomaville, Fresno County's Public Health Director, presented data about COVID-19 infection in Fresno County during FCC President Carole Goldsmith's weekly livestream, Monday, May 1, 2019. Since the livestream, COVID-19 cases have increased by nearly 124%.

Story By: Tommy Tribble, Art Director

A free testing site for the coronavirus is now open to the public by appointment at Fresno City College, in the gymnasium as of Friday, May 1.

The COVID-19 test can be scheduled through the Logistics Health Website, and is available to students and non-students alike, essential workers and public employees. The testing site is for those who have no symptoms, and it is advised that symptomatic individuals consult with their doctors to provide testing, according to the FCC website.  

Walk-ins are not permitted, and service is available by appointment only according to the website.

The test involves collecting a lab sample from the patient by inserting a q-tip into the nostril cavity, which causes mild discomfort. Results are available between 48-72 hours, according to Logistics Health. 

Testing is provided by OptumServe, a federal government health service of OPTUM, a pharmacy benefit manager that operates internationally. 

“[OptumServe] They’ve been asked by the Governor [Gavin Newsom] to help California with this surge in testing that is required,” David Pomaville, Fresno County Public Health Director, said. Pomaville spoke during FCC President Carole Goldsmith’s May 1 weekly forum livestream

“Testing is important as the first step, and it’s also important as the monitoring to make sure we stay safe for our community and for our state,” Goldsmith said, in the same livestream. 

Testing is conducted by OptumServe personnel, and FCC personnel are not involved. OptumServe is responsible for set-up, testing, and disposal, according to the FCC website. OptumServe is supporting 80 testing sites throughout California, increasing testing capacity by more than 10,500 per day. 

Pomaville said that while insurance may be billed for testing, the state of California has assured him that people will have access to free testing. The FCC testing site notably does not charge uninsured individuals. 

The 80 testing sites will focus on screening Priority 3 and Priority 4 individuals. Priority 3 involves essential workers: health care, utility, food supply, and public employees. Priority 4 involves community-based testing of all low-risk persons with symptoms, and surveillance testing of asymptomatic persons, which the FCC website encourages. 

“This is not a referral for doctors to send sick people to this testing site,” Goldsmith said.

Pomaville advises individuals experiencing symptoms to seek testing through hospitals, which he said are ramping up their testing capabilities. He said that the testing site is for people who are otherwise asymptomatic. “It [Priority 4] will include your student population. They are more than welcome.” 

“The reason why we are doing all of this is that we have an increased number of cases of COVID-19 in Fresno County,” Pomaville said.

As of Monday, May 18, there have been 1263 recorded COVID-19 cases in Fresno County, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health. This marks an increase of 699 cases, or about 124% since Goldsmith’s May 1 livestream. There have been 17 deaths, up from the six documented in the livestream. 383 have recovered, and 157 have been hospitalized.    

According to Pomaville, testing sites are distributed based on need. Preference was given to low income communities, existing access to testing, population diversity, and percent of high risk groups in population, such as people over the age of 65 and with preexisting conditions. 

“We have definitely seen a higher threat associated with the elderly in our community,” Pomaville said. However, he said that no one is immune and younger individuals have become very ill. 

Testing sites are open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The testing site is located in the FCC gymnasium, accessible on the College and Weldon avenue side, marked by orange cones and signage. 

In her livestream, Goldsmith said that testing is important, not just because of the numbers we have now, but because of the numbers we may have in the future. She said, “We will know if or when a second wave of COVID is coming our way.”