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Riverside County focusing coronavirus testing efforts in Eastern Coachella Valley with help of new lab

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the opening of a new coronavirus testing laboratory in Valencia Friday morning.

“Any time you can increase capacity statewide, it’s a good thing,” said Jose Arballo Jr., Riverside County Department of Public Health's Public Information Officer on the local impact of this laboratory.

According to Governor Newsom and his testing task force, the new laboratory is expected to increase statewide coronavirus testing by at least 75 percent. 

“Now, with our ability to substantially increase the number of tests, we’ll be able to distribute and administer tests in a much more equitable way,” Governor Newsom said.

“We’ve been tracking the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color, on older Californians, on people who are in more crowded living conditions in our urban areas and our rural areas as well,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services.

“We are going to be deploying mobile units, we are going to be deploying buses to places where they are needed, we are going to be partnering with community-based organizations, with churches and with others so that testing is available everywhere, where people need to be tested,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, Deputy Director of the California Department of Public Health Center for Infectious Diseases.

Riverside County said the plan is to focus on increased testing in the farm-working and Spanish-language communities of the Eastern Coachella Valley in the coming weeks.

“If we can work with our community partners who already have a relationship with those communities, they’re a trusted source and they would help us get the word out better,” Arballo Jr. said.

The county said increased testing will help its case rate formula. This formula is used in reopening the economy, but it will also help curb the spread of the virus in those underserved communities.

“If we increase testing in those areas, we’ll have a better handle on the spread in those communities and be able to slow it down better by having a good strategy for those communities,” Arballo Jr. said.

Governor Newsom said the lab promises to get PCR test results back no later than 48 hours, but with a goal of turning results in 24 hours. At one point, Riverside County said it was taking over a week to process PCR test results.

“People were very frustrated and they stopped wanting to get tested,” Arballo Jr. said.

He said quicker turnaround is very encouraging. 

“It allows us to do what we believe no other state in our nation can achieve,” Governor Newsom said.

Arballo wanted to remind residents to stay safe over the Halloween weekend. He encourages residents to enjoy Halloween activities with those in your household. 

Taylor Begley

Taylor Begley is a Sports Anchor and Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. You can also catch her anchoring weather on the weekends. Learn more about Taylor here.

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