Supervised kiosk mouth swab would be self-administered

City of Berkeley logoIn an effort to increase the speed and availability of COVID-19 testing, Berkeley Public Health is piloting a new test kiosk where people can swab their own mouth and place it in a receptacle — all while under supervision.

The kiosk will be at San Pablo Park for two days, Wednesday July 29 and Thursday July 30. Make an appointment online.

Test results are expected within 24-48 hours.

Saliva-based test used by Los Angeles County bein used for Berkeley pilot

The City is working with Curative Inc., which has been approved by the state to provide this saliva-based test, which has been used widely in Los Angeles County for drive-up tests.

These and other Berkeley Public Health efforts have sought to increase testing for uninsured and vulnerable populations, especially Black and Latino, who are currently infected at more than 4.5 times the rate of white people nationally. The San Pablo Park pilot tests are free to those without insurance, as are the two other Berkeley sites coordinated through the City.

Those with insurance should always coordinate with their provider, as your primary physician would be important for any follow-up care. For those with insurance, be prepared to provide that information. Federal and state rules mandate that all patients with full-service Medi-Cal or commercial insurance in California will have copays, coinsurance and deductibles waived for COVID-19 testing and screening.

“Our goal is to use what is within our means to expand the availability of testing,” said City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley. “This pilot testing program gives us a tool to see how we might expand access to more parts of our community.”

Testing is at the core of Berkeley’s COVID-19 response

Testing is a crucial part of the City’s public health response — one element in a public health infrastructure that partners closely with Alameda County and the state and is more effective when supported on a national level.

For every positive test of a Berkeley resident, City of Berkeley Public Health staff investigate and trace to identify others potentially exposed. The quicker people get tested, the quicker that response begins.

To make deeper outreach into vulnerable populations, the City has sent a mobile testing unit to senior housing complexes, organizations with connections to Latino and Black people, and skilled nursing facilities. The City has also provided testing to hundreds of people working in the City, such as essential workers in grocery stores.

Providing easier, more accessible options to target populations is essential to keeping Berkeley healthy, said Lisa Warhuus, PhD, Director of the City’s Health Housing and Community Services department.

“By protecting those most vulnerable to this disease,” said Warhuus, “we better protect our community as a whole.”