A COVID-19 rapid testing site is now open in Lompoc. Thursday was the first day people were able to get tested for free and receive their results within minutes.
Many of the residents who decided to show up to the free testing site said they went because they needed to know their results before they get together with family for the holidays.
"It's great because you cannot wait 3-5 days for the results, especially if you have to work or have family gatherings. Even though it's family, you just don't want it to spread, just to make sure we don't have COVID,” Lompoc resident Ricardo Garay said.
Merso Labs staff in charge of processing results in just 15 minutes said they were surprised by the big turnout.
"So we brought enough for 50 because we thought, well, it might not be that busy, and yeah, we were wrong. As soon as we turned into this parking lot, there was easily like close to 100 people already waiting,” medical lab tech April Villarreal said.
Staff warns that the rapid testing process is a little more invasive. A Nasopharyngeal swab is used, which goes a little deeper than people are comfortable with.
Merso Labs said they have supplies to test up to about 500 people.
The quick turnaround is what brought many out Thursday.
"I chose this because I am very impatient and I want to know like now, so this was perfect and it came at the perfect time,” Santa Maria resident Karli Meugniot said.
According to Merso Labs, you do not have to be a Lompoc resident to get tested but you will need to provide proof of insurance if you are insured or bring your identification along with social security to be tested.
“A lot of people don't have access to health care and stuff like that, so them being able to come here and do it is awesome and everyone should be really grateful for it, especially this holiday season,” Meugniot said.
Organizers said after Thursday they might have to examine their times because of the big turnout. it is first-come, first-served, so people do not need to make an appointment and will not be charged to get tested.
Testing will be available every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dick DeWees Community Center in Lompoc. Masks are required.