A COVID-19 test site recently opened in Brentwood, offering free testing to anyone regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
The site, set-up in the lobby of the performing arts center (PAC) on the Liberty High School campus, opened May 7 and is currently taking patients on a daily basis via appointment.
“They (the state) were looking for something in Brentwood for the far East County, and this was the closest to serve the far, far east county,” said Kim McCarl, Contra Costa Health Services assistant to the director of communications. “We will be on that site for the next three weeks, and then we will try and find a more permanent site in Brentwood.”
Liberty is one of three state-provided walk-up locations in the county — the other two are in Pinole and Walnut Creek. Additional county-run sites offer drive-thru testing by appointment in Antioch, Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Pablo and San Ramon.
Eric Volta, Liberty Union High School District (LUHSD) superintendent, said he was happy to support the county’s testing needs and is confident the site is a safe one.
“The few students who are picking up packets are nowhere near the PAC, parking is far away and the test center is hundreds of feet away from our skeleton crew, so I do not see this as a safety issue,” said Volta. “It is something that is needed to get us back on our feet and is part of the governor’s mandates. Our local businesses are struggling, and if LUHSD can help in any kind of way to make quicker the reopening of our town and community, then that’s what we are all about.”
Volta added that while he has not officially alerted LUHSD staff about the testing availability since most are currently sheltering in place, he does support those who want to get tested.
Brentwood City Manager Tim Ogden agreed.
“We didn’t overtly alert our staff either requiring or recommending testing,” Ogden said. “I understood the testing capacity was limited, and with no confirmed or suspected cases amidst staff, (I) hadn’t done so. Most of the city hall staff are also working remotely, so that was another reason for not doing so. I could see a scenario when city hall reopens in some fashion that testing would add value.”
The increased access to community testing will help the county reach its goal for easing restrictions and shelter-in-place orders that are currently set through the end of May.
“We really want people to get tested for themselves and in order to help meet the goals the governor has set to reopen,” County Supervisor Diane Burgis said.
The Brentwood site tests for the virus only, not the antibodies. The county is looking to reach an overall goal of approximately 2,200 tests per day and is currently serving between 300 and 400 patients a day.
Aaron Albright with Optum, the company hired by the county to conduct the tests, said their contract with the state is for two months.
“We are able to support up to 132 tests per day, per site,” Albright said. “We only schedule a limited number of people at a time to minimize the number of patients in the testing space in order to reduce risk of exposure.”
Exact numbers as to how many residents have been tested at the Brentwood location were not available as of press time, but McCarl reported they “have gotten a massive response.”
While those without symptoms are able to get tested, symptoms that may warrant a test include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle ache, sore throat, headache, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, recent loss of taste or smell, or confusion, particularly in older adults.