Pop-up COVID testing site closes due to overflow

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A COVID testing site near the Los Alamitos Youth Center building became so inundated with people seeking tests that the City of Los Alamitos decided to close the site until a more suitable location can be found, officials said on Tuesday afternoon.

Gina Philips, administrative director at the Youth Center, reported her concerns about the proximity of the overflowing COVID testing site to the Youth Center, which serves a highly vulnerable, at-risk  population comprised of the center’s young children and elderly folks coming in twice a week for their rec programs. She commented on the long lines of patients wrapped all the way around the Youth Center, and the burden that their staff has had to take on as people call the center about the testing services, park in prohibited red spaces (leading to police intervention at one point), try to use the center’s bathroom and borrow masks from inside. Gina astutely remarked, “We at the Youth Center are here to watch the kids, not to patrol and police COVID testing, and now we are so [surrounded] by the testing that we have to be the bad guy that says “no” to things like coming inside to use the restroom because that could expose our kids to COVID.” While she completely sympathizes with today’s need for COVID testing, she expressed her frustrations with the city and the clinic for forcing them to alter their facility and staffing to accommodate the testing site, and emphasized that the location of the site was extremely poorly chosen, in addition to having insufficient space and parking.

“It is not safe to have so many possibly infected patients located so close to children with the virus being so contagious. Since the pandemic started we’ve been so good about covering and cleaning everything, wearing masks, sanitizing between activities, and are proud to have had zero positive cases in our Youth Center — we really want to keep it that way.”

A statement from Los Alamitos City Manager Chet Simmons revealed that the demand for testing has increased significantly in recent weeks, but recognizes that the current site configuration was not designed for this increase in volume, and declares that the site will be discontinued at this location. “Fortunately,” Mr. Simmons said, “Los Alamitos has a significant number of engaged community partners, such as the Youth Center, that are working with the City to identify an alternative site so that we can continue to provide this vital service to the community.”

The COVID test site was set up between the recreation building and the Youth Center facility.

In a sTuesday, Jan. 4 phone interview, State Sen. Tom Umberg said the latest variety of COVID-19 had a greater impact on young people. He said you have to be cautious and cognizant of where you put a testing site. He pointed out that you would not have placed a testing site near a senior center a year ago. “You have to use common sense,” Umberg said.

Pop-up COVID testing site closes due  to overflow