Irvine Plans to Offer Coronavirus Testing to Residents
Saturday, May 02, 2020
In the next few weeks, Irvine officials hope to be able to tell every resident they can be tested for infection with the coronavirus by making an online appointment and showing up at a drive-through test site.
At the request of Councilman Michael Carroll, the Irvine City Council voted on April 28, to create a testing program for city employees and residents. Carroll said officials are talking to labs to find a partner to process the tests and he would like to launch the program in a few weeks.
The impetus to have the city offer tests was “the understandable frustration that we have been hearing from our residents that testing is simply unavailable for people without symptoms,” Carroll said.
“For our council, part of reopening the city is giving people the comfort that they can get through knowing whether they are infected or not.”
Though testing capacity at public and private labs has grown significantly in the past few weeks, some providers continue to prioritize those at higher risk, such as first responders and people in nursing homes. Sporadic shortages of some test supplies and protective gear for health care workers also have hampered the expansion of testing.
Irvine would start by testing police and other city workers to get the system running smoothly and ensure “that we have the consistency and the safety that people will expect,” Carroll said. Then the program would be opened to all city residents, likely via online appointment scheduling and a drive-through site at the Orange County Great Park or some other central location.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles city officials announced testing for any city resident who wants it; however, citing limited supplies and capacity, Los Angeles County continues to focus on people with symptoms and those at high risk.
Funding for Irvine’s program is still up in the air. Carroll said the city is talking with Orange County officials about whether federal coronavirus relief money could be used, and private donations are also a possibility.
Positive case data would be shared with the Orange County Health Care Agency, with appropriate privacy protections, Carroll said. Once the program is ready to launch, the city will notify residents about how to get information and make an appointment by phone or online.
“Testing, at least to me and I think the rest of the council, was a real priority,” Carroll said.
“It will give people an appropriate sense of comfort that they can get back to their regular daily lives.”