Although Rolanda Cordero acknowledged she wasn’t experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, the Lompoc resident said she’d rather be safe than sorry.
It was for that reason that Cordero was was among a steady stream of people, all wearing face coverings, who filtered through Lompoc’s Anderson Recreation Center on Friday, the first day of communitywide COVID-19 testing in the city.
The site became the third — joining similar centers in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara — to be opened by Santa Barbara County officials in an effort to expand access to testing in the county.
Cordero, who works at Lompoc Valley Medical Center, said she was appreciative of the free opportunity to “make sure I wasn’t a carrier.”
“I think everybody should have it done, whether they have symptoms or not,” she said shortly after completing her test. “You could be walking around like Typhoid Mary.”
Cordero wasn’t alone in her reasoning.
The first day of community COVID-19 testing in Santa Barbara County drew residents from as far as Santa Barbara and southern San Luis Obispo County to the Santa Maria Fairpark Convention Center for a free, 5-minute nasal swab test through federal health service OptumServe.
The tests, which were carried out by federal health service OptumServe, were offered only to those who registered online beforehand. County officials reported that Friday’s first day of testing was completely booked with all 132 appointments filled.
Several of those who took the tests said they were not exhibiting any of the symptoms of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Lompoc resident Jennifer Elliott said she was required to get tested before an upcoming medical procedure.
“I’ll be surprised as anyone if I find out that I have it,” she said, noting that she was told it could be three days before she receives the results. “I barely leave the house.”
Vandenberg Village resident Lee Roy said he wanted to be tested so that he would have peace of mind, or be able to provide that peace of mind to others, in case he intermingles with people in the near future.
The 76-year-old said he considered proactive widespread testing to be especially important in light of what he feels has been poor leadership throughout this pandemic from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
“If the president and the vice president can have it done three times a day, we can get it done one time a day,” he said. “And those [guys] don’t even wear masks. It's like they don't care.”
The tests are carried out with nasal swabs, and the procedure from time of entry to exit typically took less than 15 minutes Friday.
Elliott said the test itself was “not fun,” but she said that shouldn’t deter others.
“It’s not comfortable, but I’ve had worse tests, so it wasn’t that bad,” she said.
Despite having a deviated septum that had him worried about the nasal swab, Roy said the experience went a lot better than he expected it would.
“You couldn’t ask for a nicer group of people in there working the place,” he said, adding that the nasal swab was no worse than a shot in the arm. “Even everybody in line was really nice. This kind of thing brings the good out in good people and the bad out in bad people.”
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.
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