Fremont opening free COVID-19 testing center Friday morning


TESTING CENTER LOCATION: Fremont Fire Tactical Training Center, 7200 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont, CA 


Testing center open to all, will prioritize health care and public safety workers

By  | | Bay Area News Group |  Link to the article


FREMONT — Fremont is opening a free COVID-19 testing center Friday, following a similar model pioneered in Hayward last week, officials said.

Avellino Labs, a private biotech firm based in Menlo Park, will supply and process the test kits, while Fremont will host the testing at its Fire Department Tactical Training Center, located at the city’s western edge, at 7200 Stevenson Blvd.

Fremont Fire Department Chief Curtis Jacobson said the city’s testing site is open to anyone from anywhere, regardless of immigration status, and will prioritize testing people on the front lines of public safety and health care, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics, medical professionals and caregivers.


“We’re trying to keep the caregivers who are going in and out of people’s homes, or providing care at senior facilities or the hospitals, provide them the opportunity to get tested so they’re not either bringing something home from work or bringing something from home into their workspace,” Jacobson said.


Anyone looking to be tested at the Fremont site must have a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and will have to be screened for other symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, to determine if they will be tested, officials said.


“We can’t test everybody, we just don’t have that capacity,” Jacobson said.


He said the center will be able to run approximately 100 tests per day maximum. It will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day or until testing runs out, for three weeks, he said.


For now, the center will only accept people driving up in a car, but Jacobson said the city is working with a local healthcare provider to help set up another testing site for people who don’t have cars or cannot be driven to the center.


“We have a lot of people that are worried and concerned in our community. Coronavirus is on everybody’s mind,” Raj Salwan, a Fremont City Councilman said Thursday.


“I think being able to have the tests in our community will put a lot of minds at ease,” Salwan said. “And if they have it, you can tell them, ‘isolate yourself, you have coronavirus,’” Salwan said.


Fremont’s center will come online just after the number of coronavirus cases in California topped 10,000 Thursday morning, according to data compiled by this news organization.


Jacobson said Fremont firefighters helped out for a week at the Hayward Fire Department free testing site and learned some of the protocols there.


“While we were gathering the information from Hayward Fire, I proposed the idea to our mayor and council and city manager, and they thought it was a great idea to provide the service,” Jacobson said.


When it opened last Monday, the Hayward testing site was the first of its kind in the Bay Area allowing anyone who met the threshold for testing to have a free test without a doctor’s recommendation.


Fremont is following close behind, with the center representing one of only a few places in the state where governments are teaming up with commercial companies to offer expanded testing options to people who may not be able to get one through a health care provider.


Similar to Hayward, Fremont’s city manager signed off on spending nearly $500,000 of city money to pay for the testing and the operation of the center, and Jacobson said the city is expecting to be reimbursed through state and federal disaster relief funds.


We are trying to cast a wider net for the opportunity for people to be tested. We know that the more folks that we are testing, the more ability we have of getting a handle on folks that need to receive treatment, and folks that need to isolate and quarantine,” Jacobson said.


“We thank the City of Hayward for inviting Fremont to join its team, to better prepare ourselves as we roll out our own testing center,” Mayor Lily Mei said in a press release Thursday night.


“We’re all stronger when community partners come together to work on creating a solution,” she added.