As coronavirus continues to spread in Kern County, a federal surge testing unit arrived in Bakersfield on Wednesday. In a press conference announcing the opening of the facility, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and others expressed hope that the federal site could help local officials bring COVID-19 under control in Kern County.

Laboratories processing coronavirus tests locally have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tests coming through their doors. The federal site, which is to begin operating out of the Kern County fairgrounds at 2 p.m. Wednesday, promises to return tests within three days, allowing the Kern County Public Health Services Department to respond quicker to those who receive positive results.

“This will help us get closer to mitigating COVID-19 throughout our community,” McCarthy said during the press conference held on Zoom. “As we know, we have a rise in COVID throughout the Central Valley and the only way to get a handle on this is testing.”

McCarthy was joined by Dr. Brett Giroir, a four-star admiral serving as the assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the surge testing site. He said the surge unit has been deployed in other coronavirus hot spots around the country, and has been shown to help bring down disease transmission.

“We bring in healthcare professionals. We bring in the web services. We bring in all the swabs, tubes, media, do the laboratory tests and have web reporting,” he said. “The goal is really to supplement your already excellent public health that you have going on, because when we see a hot spot starting, we know that surging testing can be helpful.”

Starting Thursday, the surge site will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the capability of testing 5,000 people per day for the next 12 days. The site is drive-thru only, and will accept anyone, although appointments are encouraged.

Those wishing to make an appointment can go to McCarthy’s Facebook page or visit http://doineedacovid19test.com/.

“I am optimistic this is really going to help us get a better control, and to implement some local control,” Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said during the press conference, “so that we can get a hold of this and get our businesses back open.”

The federal effort replaces a testing site organized by Supervisor Leticia Perez’s office. Perez said during a board meeting on Tuesday a host of people who had scheduled appointments through Project Baseline abruptly found those appointments to be canceled.

“I want to apologize to members of the public who were set to be there (Tuesday) and receive a test and could not do so,” she said. “I feel responsible for that … but I do want the public to know in no way shape or form is that site under my control or influence in any way, as all of our people were let go.”

She added that the new site was a good opportunity to increase testing and she hoped it worked.

The Health and Human Services Department has opened temporary surge testing sites in cities like Miami, New Orleans and Phoenix, all with the intent of rapidly scaling the amount of people who can be quickly tested.

Local news reported in Phoenix that testing totals fell far short of the maximum capacity of 60,000 as the program drew to a close on Monday, with the Arizona Governor’s Office announcing 12,900 of 50,000 tests had been given days before the site would leave the state.

The Phoenix turnout highlights the need for local populations to be informed and take advantage of the surge testing site. On Wednesday, McCarthy urged the community to get the word out and sign up for the tests.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you are in the community (and) you need a test, we have an opportunity for you to get through,” he said. “We want to make sure your health is the top priority. And this is a way to get a handle on COVID.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

Recommended for you

(20) comments

Lil ole me

Ok, a legit question here. Since ALL sources describe the nasal swab collection procedure identically, why (and how??) is the person being tested the one who does the swabbing. The area to be reached for swab collection of secretions is not just an inch up your nose. The tip of the swab has to reach the nasopharyngeal cavity (where the nasal cavity reaches the back of the mouth) which is approximately 6 inches up your nose with the head tilted at the precise angle for the straight swab to have a linear path to reach the area. Twice, once on each side. Usually requires a professional to do this correctly, plus who in the world is going to do this very uncomfortable thing correctly on themselves. Unless the sample is collected correctly, the test is essentially invalid. So why here, are the professional nurses handing the swab to the person for self collection??? This is not something one does to oneself easily or willingly. Why are we bothering to do all these tests if they are going to be invalid?? Seriously, how many people are going to line up a swab to go 6 inches up their nose, twice? Thoughts......

Masked 2020

"the only way to get a handle on this".... is to listen to science and reputable physicians...whatever the hot mess of a playbook the White House and all of NakedDon's little men are using isn't working....

PopTart

Death rate in Kern County... 0.000148

Boogerface Nutter

many of those who get the virus not only have terrible symptoms short of ventilators but those lung problems don't go away like a cold...or the actual flu.

You may not die..but you may be really, really badly affected.

Wear a mask in public. It's the very least you can do if you care about others at all.

casones

HEY, TRUMP WANNABE! HERE'S YOUR DEATH RATE FOR THE TRUMP VIRUS! 135. 135 DEAD SPECIFICALLY, BECAUSE OF THE VIRUS. 135 DEAD WHO WOULD STILL BE ALIVE IF NOT FOR THE TRUMP VIRUS! 135 DEAD AND BEING MOURNED BY HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS. YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO HUMANITY AND DESERVE YOUR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE TRUMP REPUBLIC OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

Moardeeb

We'd be open right now like Europe, China, New Zealand, Singapore, and on and on if it wasn't for the lack of a National strategy implemented by the Trump Administration. His callous disregard for the seriousness of this pandemic and bad example of ignoring and denying it has put us back to square one. More importantly, 100,000 or more people needlessly died say the epidemiologists, and Trump is drowning in their blood. Can't get a haircut? Too bad. Blame Trump. You've got bigger problems than bad hair. You just might end up with a ventilator tune down your throat.

Unruly Panda

Wrong again.

The death rate in Kern County is 0.0073, or 0.73%.

139 / 18,411 = 0.0073

Can you people please just learn how to express decimals and percentages correctly?

Or is that too much to ask?

JR

In order for the testing to have a comprehensive and long lasting effect in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, wouldn't people need to get tested on a regular, frequent basis? I mean, you can test negative one day but get infected two days later. Instead of letting people choose if and when they come in, why not create a system, like jury duty, where people are required to get tested on the same day of each month: second Tuesday or third Wednesday or last Friday. Otherwise, it's all so haphazard and random that it will take forever, and a lot of people left with permanent disabilities, or death in the meantime.

Boogerface Nutter

If you get ANY of the symptoms of the virus, by all means get tested. If you've been around someone who has tested positive, by all means get tested. If none of those things, wear a mask in public and practice social distancing.

Want a test? Get one.

I donated blood recently and they test for antibodies. There's a good way to have a test and do some good at the same time.

Zeppo

My thoughts exactly!

Masked 2020

🐕💨....ohh.... 2 2 funny....

PedoHater

Where has this clown been for the last 6 months? I know...saying its a hoax and kissing trumps backside

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Pedo: As much of a clown as someone who's name literally means "child hater".

Get a new routine- Father Craig says "hi", BTW... LOL

casones

MR IGNORANT AGAIN! OBVIOUSLY LEFT THE CHLORINE BLEACH BAR ON CHESTER AFTER ONE TOO MANY BLEACH DRINKS ON THE ADVICE OF KING TRUMP. DON'T FORGET THE BULBS. BY THE WAY, YOU INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED MENTAL MIDGET, AND RASCIST TO BOOT, THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION FOR PEDO IS RELEASE OF GAS THROUGH YOUR BACKSIDE. THEY WON' LET ME USE THE WORD.. RASCISTS LIKE YOU SPREAD A VIRUS MAYBE AS BAD AS THE CORONA! JESUS, I GUESS FROM UNDER YOUR BED YOU ARE OBLIVIOUS TO THE OUTRAGE OVER THE GEORGE FLOYD MURDER. CONCOCTING A SPANISH TRANSLATION TO FIT YOUR NARRATIVE IS AS RASCIST AS IT GETS! TRUMP WANNABE HAS SUCCEEDED!

Zeppo

You are not just a "PedoHater" you are simply a "Hater."

Moardeeb

McCarthy. What a 🐕💨

Vico17

You've indoctrinated enough dumb little kids in Communist China. You won't be allowed to do it here.

Boogerface Nutter

Much as I'd like to agree with you, at least McCarthy is taking this seriously, unlike someone in DC.

casones

THE SAME COWARD THAT DEFENDS THE KING WHO SAID "TESTING IS OVER-RATED" "IT WILL MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR" "WE HAVE 15 CASES SOON TO BE ZERO" THAT MCCARTHY!

Zeppo

Is that a photo of you???

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.