On Thursday, San Luis Obispo County hosted a free rapid COVID-19 testing event at Ramona Gardens Park in Grover Beach. Testing was available between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Health experts are warning about the rise of the Omicron variant and the potential for a surge around the holiday season when people travel and gather.
They suggest people get tested before and after gathering with loved ones or traveling.
Peter Johnson, who lives in San Luis Obispo, told KSBY, “My sister is in LA right now, standing in the same – probably longer – line. We were just texting. Everyone’s trying to get tested before we meet up.”
At the event, people could view their results within 15 minutes of the test.
Peter said, “I just want to get results the same day and just know, you know, before you go.”
Eileen Ferrera explained, “I’ve been on an Uber, train, plane, and bus in close contact with other people.”
She said she was getting tested ahead of celebrating Christmas with her 99-year-old father.
In line, Rebeca Garcia, a resident of Santa Maria, said, “We just want to be safe, especially during the holiday season, and we want to make sure our family and our friends are protected.”
San Luis Obispo County confirmed its first case of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant last week.
“As we head into the winter holidays, more people are indoors, they’re shopping indoors, and this event, where we provided free rapid COVID tests, gives them the confidence to know before they go or gather,” said Tom Cuddy, a Public Information Officer for the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department.
Kent and Julie Utterback waited in line for the test ahead of a flight to Colorado.
“I believe that most of our relatives already have had their shots, so that’s of some comfort. But we’re still going to exercise caution where we need to exercise caution, especially in crowded places,” Kent said.
Julie added, “I’m actually going to get my booster right now after this because I want to make sure I’m completely as well prepared as possible before.”
At the site, people swabbed themselves before handing it back to the healthcare staff.
“It was less startling than the first time I have had it because this was the second time, and the first time was a little uncomfortable because they stick it way up your nose and this time it’s not so bad,” Kent Utterback said.
Many of the people waiting in line said they planned to test after the holidays as well.
People can make appointments at community testing sites here.