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‘A little tingle’: Feds’ temporary testing site, opened in response to COVID-19 surge, staying open through Aug. 21


BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (KGET) — The Central Valley remains a COVID-19 hotspot — a fact that a couple of weeks ago prompted the federal government, led by local congressman Kevin McCarthy, to open a temporary surge testing site in Bakersfield.

Test results are available in as few as three days.

The testing site was scheduled to close this Sunday, but the steady level of new cases prompted officials to authorize a 12-day extension. In view of the steady stream of cases you might think we’d be seeing a surge in testing at the temporary site KGET’s Robert Price found the process almost alarmingly easy.

The Kern County Department of Public Health reported eight COVID-19 deaths Friday morning, but almost nobody seems to be at the testing site at noon.

The quick-turnaround site is recording 400 drive-thru tests a day, about 40 percent of them reservations booked through But most are of the drop-in variety.

The self-swab test isn’t bad at all, Price reported. A little tingle. You break off the swab at its perforation, insert the business end into a sealed tube, and you’re done. The testing site was supposed to have closed Sunday, but the 12-day extension means it’ll be open until Aug. 21.

“This surge site is critical to helping us mitigate COVID-19 in our community, and allows individuals the opportunity to be tested with results expected in 3-5 days,” McCarthy said in a statement issued Friday. “The process is very straightforward, less invasive, and fairly quick, not to mention it is the only location in the county that accepts drop-ins. If you haven’t already taken a test, you still have time – the site has extended its services for approximately two more weeks and is open to individuals of all ages, whether or not you are showing symptoms.”

Through the CARES Act and other relief bills, Congress provided significant funding to increase COVID-19 testing capacity, according to McCarthy’s office. HHS is using some of these funds for the testing supplies and medical personnel at surge sites such as the one in Bakersfield. This was a decision by HHS, in collaboration with the state and county officials, McCarthy’s office said.

Those who make reservations through are in and out in as little as five minutes, those without reservations in as little as 10. The testing site is open 7 am, to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The testing is free and open to all ages.

KGET will let you know how Price’s test comes out.

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