Free testing site in Hayward open to all with COVID-19 symptoms

Dozens of cars began lining up early in front of Hayward Fire Station 7 on Huntwood Avenue Monday morning.

They came to get tested for COVID-19. 

The fire department wants to ease the wave of people wanting to get tested. 

"To relieve the pressure of the 911 system; the hospitals; the clinics," said Don Nichelson, Hayward Fire Department spokesman.

Hayward firefighters and paramedics are administering the free tests, open to anyone regardless of where they live or immigration status.

Health officials only want to test people who have symptoms of the coronavirus. That's why they take a thermometer to each person. Those whose temperatures are below 100 degrees are turned away.

 "We don't want people who are not sick. We want to treat those and get those test kits to the people who need it the most. The people exhibiting symptoms," said Nichelson.

Those with fevers above 100 degrees were told to pull over and then taken into a tent for testing.

"First responders, health care workers, those types of individuals they are going to have their own tent set up," he said. "We are getting 10-20 swipes for each nostril and the back of the throat."

The fire department plans to conduct 370 tests per day, a plan made possible through a partnership with Avelino Lab USA of Menlo Park.

The test results are expected back in six to 24 hours.

"The goal is not to overwhelm the lab. We have to be able to be responsible and administer a certain amount of tests as the lab can process," said Nichelson.

By noon on Monday, 87 people were tested out of the 373 screened.

The free testing center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.