Free COVID-19 testing now available in San Luis Obispo County

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 01:50:29-04

You can now get tested for COVID-19 for free in San Luis Obispo County and it only takes about five minutes.

Two state-funded testing sites, one in Paso Robles and one in Grover Beach, opened up to the public Monday and will be operating for at least two weeks.

The sites are located at:

  • Ramona Garden Community Center: 993 Ramona Avenue, Grover Beach
  • Paso Robles Veterans Hall: 240 Scott Street, Paso Robles

A county spokesperson said about 130 people can be tested per day at each site.

As of Monday afternoon, 80 people had been tested in Grover Beach and 95 in Paso Robles, according to public health officials.

Many described the testing process as quick and easy, with little to no wait times.

“They moved through [the line] fairly quickly. I got in about 10:30 a.m. and it was right in easily," said Tom Swem, who made an appointment at the Grover Beach site.

Before you arrive, you have to make an appointment by phone or online. Some signed up the night before.

“My wife is in medical care and her office is going back to work so we just want to make sure both of us were symptom-free and had no issues,” Swem said.

Any California resident can sign up, but priority is given to the following people:

  • Healthcare workers and first responders
  • Ages 65 and older or any age with chronic medical conditions
  • Residents or employees of congregate care living facilities
  • Persons in essential occupations which includes utilities, grocery, food supply, and public employees
  • Any persons exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19

"I'm 71, I am in good health and it is nice to get tested and determine whether or not I might have it,” said Eileen Spears, who got tested in Grover Beach. “We will have to wait and see. I was told about 48-72 hours is when I'll find out."

Health officials say if you have insurance, bring it. Insurance information will be gathered when you register but no co-pay is required.

However, if you don't have insurance, it's not a problem. The state will pay for your test.

Public health officials say increased testing will push San Luis Obispo County to the next milestone.

“Having these testing sites available helps us reach those six indicators that the governor set out for each county to allow us to open back up,” said Michelle Shoresman, a spokesperson for San Luis Obispo County. “We feel we are ready and this is one of those things that help us get to that point.”

One woman who didn't want to go on camera said she had trouble booking an appointment, and despite trying for two days, still doesn't have a time slot.

County officials say individuals who register online will receive a card at their appointment with information on obtaining their results. Those who register over the phone will receive a phone call from Optum, a pharmacy benefit manager and care services group.

People who test positive will receive a phone call directly, regardless of how they registered, health officials say.

In Santa Barbara County, a testing site at the Santa Maria Fairpark will open Tuesday. You will also need to make an appointment ahead of time.

Screening and appointments at any Central Coast location can be made between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. by clicking here. Community members may also register for an appointment by phone at 888-634-1123 Monday through Friday.