South Pasadena District 2 Council Member Dr. Marina Khubesrian has been concerned about the level of access to COVID-19 testing in South Pasadena. Earlier this month she noted that infection rates remain high in LA county and while about half the cases are at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities, she said the community must reconcile itself to the notion that “this will be in our community for some time.” She also detailed glitches in some of the online covid testing sign-up portals.
Khubesrian added she was unhappy with the amount of supplies going to waste due to the expiration of testing materials. “There is a lot more capacity than we are taking advantage of.”
Fourth District Council Member Michael Cacciotti also worried that absent an increase in the rate of testing, it could be mid-August before even half the number of people tested in the county would amount to the level experts say is necessary to reopen without risk.
Khubesrian asked Fire Chief Paul Riddle to look into the possibility of getting better access to testing for city employees and South Pasadenans, be it a mobile service, or in some partnership with the county to “capture as much of the community as possible.”
Riddle, who acknowledged there’d been a spike in new COVID-19 cases in South Pasadena this month, said some cities in the San Gabriel Valley have found unique approaches. The city of Alhambra hired a third-party contractor to make tests available to 1,600 residents of that city. South Pasadena officials said Alhambra allocated $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant money to fund that work. South Pasadena is currently deciding how to spend the $73,528 it got in one-time, covid-only CDBG dollars under the CARES act; staff has recommended using it to defer for several months the subsidized cost of meals provided to eligible senior citizens.
As of this week, Riddle told the city council that the state has the capacity to do up to 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day but only about a third of that is being utilized. Riddle said the reasons for that are a “deficiency” in the supply chain and lower demand for testing than anticipated.
In response to a question from District 5 Council Member Diana Mahmud, he said he’s been expecting to hear an announcement that the excess testing capacity supply will be reallocated to broaden testing to asymptomatic persons — for whom testing is not currently available in the unincorporated parts of the county — but that nothing official has come down. He said the issue is real, telling a story about a visit to an East LA testing station where another fire chief was encouraged to bring his staff for testing because the East LA station had an oversupply of tests available. But he said the hang up there was the low rate of people signing up for tests.
Riddle said testing will ramp up as the FDA approves more private companies to do tests and if the $75 billion in additional testing spending in the House-passed “Heroes Act” is ultimately passed by the Senate and signed into law.
Until then, he offered this update of capacity in Los Angeles County. He said there are 54 testing sites, including 35 drive-up only sites run by the city and county of Los Angeles; 17 walk-up only sites run by a state/county partnership known as OptumServe and two state-operated, drive-up sites run by Verily, a life science research firm that is an “independent subsidiary” of Google owner Alphabet Inc.
Five of these sites are within five miles of South Pasadena. Their address are below, but to be tested you must have an appointment, which can be done at lacovidprod.service-now.com/rrs. Moreover, officials prefer that those seeking tests first check with their primary physicians for referrals.
The nearby testing sites are:
Pasadena Testing Site
1001 Rose Bowl Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91003
1595 N. Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104
East LA College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Between Floral and Cesar Chavez
Cal State Uni LA
5151 State University Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90032
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center – Lincoln High School
2512 Alta St.
Los Angeles, CA 90031