Those who live or work in Irvine and need to be tested for the coronavirus can still make an appointment at the Orange County Great Park drive-thru site at least until the end of February.
A contract with the company coordinating the testing was set to expire at the end of December, but the city opted to extend it for two more months, with COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations in Orange County on the rise in recent weeks.
Irvine is using city funds, not the rapidly expiring federal aid dollars, to pay for the drive-through testing, which is free for people without health insurance. As of last week, a total of 14,555 tests had been provided since the site opened over the summer.
When the Great Park site first opened, its 200 appointments a day were fully booked and the operator ramped up to a maximum of 260 a day, Irvine Deputy City Manager Melissa Haley said. After a lull in demand during the summer, requests for tests have climbed in recent weeks as infections have hit new highs.
There’s a need for testing not only for people who have never been tested, but also for those who got a negative test result earlier but may have since developed symptoms or potentially been exposed again, Councilman Mike Carroll said.
“In my view it is imperative that we continue to provide city-sponsored testing,” he said. “We need to fill the gap wherever we can to give people the comfort that they need, to know whether they’re positive or not.”
The county also plans to continue sponsoring large test sites in Costa Mesa and Anaheim, as well as mobile testing targeting “hot spot” neighborhoods and at-home kits that can be mailed in for results. County officials say they want to provide the service at least until the end of March and will reevaluate then how much longer it may be needed.