• women with yellow vests giving out free masks

      SG Hope Lions Club table (Photo – Cheryl Cabot)

      The San Gabriel Mission parking lot was the site of free COVID-19 testing by a Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) mobile unit this weekend. Additional testing will be held Tuesday -Saturday, January 12-16 and Tuesday-Thursday, January 19-21.

      By Cheryl Cabot

      Tests are held from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm with up to 1,500 people tested per day. No insurance is needed.

      Reservations are recommended and can be made at this link for COVID -19 popup testing sites (make sure you scroll down to San Gabriel Mission Playhouse).

      Zachary Oser, Los Angeles Area Manager for CORE, stated, “This program is designed to bring free, COVID-19 testing to communities in LA County that are experiencing spikes in positivity rates versus the City average.

      We also target communities that are under-resourced, that have barriers to access to health care, such as a lack of health insurance or a lack of test resources in those areas.”

      Originally founded by Sean Penn as a non-profit in response to the Haiti earthquake 10 years ago, CORE has been setting up testing sites across the country for months.

      “This partnership was formed through San Gabriel Mayor Denise Menchaca and CORE, and we will be here for two weeks. We rotate to different communities around Los Angeles County on a two-week basis.”

      The self-administered tests are simple and take about two minutes. Participants are first asked to turn and cough deeply into their elbow three times to create saliva.  They are then given a sealed zip-lock bag containing a long Q-tip and a vial. Then they swab inside each cheek, upper and lower gums, underneath and top of tongue and the roof of the mouth. (An illustration of the procedure can be found on Curative). After swabbing, the Q-tip is placed in the vial and sealed and handed to a worker. Results take approximately 48 hours and notification is by text or e-mail.

      On a personal note, I would like to share with my community why COVID testing is so important to me. My daughter was tested positive and was a-symptomatic. She recovered fully. My cousins both got COVID also, but they are considered “long-haulers.” It took them six months to fully recover. And lastly, my sister-in-law passed away. She lost her battle to COVID in two weeks. It is so important for all of you to get tested and to protect your loved ones. So, please, take advantage of this test site, or any test site.

      ~ Mayor Denise Menchaca

      a woman and a man sticking a cotton swap in their noses

      Mayor Denise Menchaca and CM Tony Ding demonstrating the test (Photos – Cheryl Cabot)

      San Gabriel’s COVID-19 Testing

      San Gabriel Mayor, Denise Menchaca and Councilman Tony Ding demonstrated the testing process.

      “In addition to the testing,” Oser continued, “other community service organizations providing resources. The test sites are sort of a community hub where other resources like food distribution, mask giveaways, and flu vaccinations, to serve as a one-stop -shop by communities that have been hit hard and this will help them get through this difficult time.”

      The San Gabriel Hope Lions Club is providing bottled water, face masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer (see photo above).

      Future vaccinations

      CORE is currently in discussions with public health officials and anticipate vaccinations will start taking place in the County in February. Because the San Gabriel Mission was chosen as a site for testing, it will also be used for vaccinations when they become available.

      Manager Oser explained that “Mayor Menchaca and Community Services Director, Rebecca Perez, were contacted by CORE and very quickly began getting approvals and land use agreements and then make the testing site available in a very short amount of time.”

      Oser added:

      This location is a pillar of the community so it’s familiar and known by the people who need to get tested. That’s one of the key ingredients on how we identify sites. Locations that are well known, easily accessible, have enough space to host us and can be that bridge between us, our health care resources and the people that need it.

      [This article has been updated to include a link to the testing site. Jan. 11, 2021, 9:00 pm]


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