A COVID-19 rapid-test site temporarily located at Lompoc's Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center is open to the public but is not free of cost for those without insurance.
City officials had reported earlier that the walk-up test site, offered through Lompoc's Merso Labs in partnership with the city, was cost-free for all, but now the lab's COO Siheen Asfaha is setting the record straight.
While testing is free for those who show proof of health insurance, she said, those without insurance will be billed on-site to proceed with testing.
The cost of a rapid results test, which is 65% accurate and takes 15 to 20 minutes to process, costs $150, said Asfaha, noting that patients can pay by cash or credit card but not by check.
Patients without proof of insurance who opt for a more accurate test result found in the PCR test — "polymerase chain reaction," which is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism — can expect to pay $200 upfront.
The latter is 99% accurate and requires a three-day processing wait time, she said.
Asfaha said that an arrangement to offer testing every Thursday until the end of January was made with the city of Lompoc, and that a determination to continue operations will be made at that time.
A Starbucks location in Lompoc was closed as of Thursday due to at least one reported case of COVID-19 among its staff, while a second location has altered its business operations due to positive cases among employees.
"The demand is definitely there," Asfaha said. "It's been successful, but the demand has been overwhelming, which is why we capped it at 250."
Asfaha said Merso Labs now only will accept a limit of 250 walk-ups every Thursday, a contrast to the volume they had previously managed.
"On Christmas Eve, we had 270 people and on New Year's Eve, we tested 402," Asfaha said. "We don't want to turn people away but we just couldn't keep up."
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Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.
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