City ramps up COVID-19 testing operations amid ‘unprecedented’ demand

The Long Beach Health Department is ramping up staffing and COVID-19 testing operations following a huge demand from the omicron surge.

The effort comes as new COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed in the past month. The city hit more than 1,700 cases in one day—a single-day peak that is 1.6 times higher than the peak in the 2020-2021 winter surge, health officials said.

Long Beach on Tuesday reported a testing positivity rate of 20.3%, meaning one in five people who are tested are positive for COVID-19. That’s the highest rate so far in the pandemic. The number of daily cases per 100,000 residents has also surged to 160, compared to just 17 cases per 100,000 residents two weeks ago on December 23.

Long Beach overall reported 1,614 new cases on Tuesday, but no new deaths.

Testing clinics are now seeing long lines and steep demand, as more people become infected from holiday gatherings. On Jan. 4, the city administered 6,965 tests, up from 347 tests on Dec. 14.

Long Beach City health officer Dr. Anissa Davis this week called the testing demand “unprecedented” and urged people to wear masks and get fully vaccinated.

Due to the demand, the city will make the following temporary changes to testing and vaccine clinic operation:

  • Expanding testing operations at Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus (PCC) to accommodate more people
  • Additional Health Department staff to support rapid testing operations at all city-run testing clinics
  • Prioritizing people with appointments. People without a testing appointment must arrive at least one hour prior to the closing of each shift at all city testing sites in order to be tested.

The city is also exploring new possible testing locations to help meet demand.

City-run testing and vaccine clinics will temporarily adhere to the following modified schedules beginning Monday, Jan. 10:

  • Testing Schedule
    • Long Beach City College, Veterans Stadium: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 – 5 p.m.
    • Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center at Houghton Park: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2:30-5:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    • Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    • Cabrillo High School: Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2:30 – 5 p.m. CSULB (Long Beach State): Mondays, Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 and Wednesdays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Rapid tests not available)
  • Vaccine Schedule
    • Long Beach City College, PCC: Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 7p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    • Long Beach City College, Liberal Arts Campus (Parking Lot 1, corner of Clark Avenue & Carson Street): Thursdays, 10 a.m. – noon
    • Cabrillo High School (2001 Santa Fe Ave.), Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center at Houghton Park: Mondays – Wednesdays, 1 – 5 p.m. and Thursdays – Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    • CSULB: 6049 E. Seventh St., Mondays, Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 and Wednesdays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • El Dorado Park West: Wednesdays, 2 – 6 p.m. (boosters only; begins Jan. 5)

People should get tested if any symptoms are present or if they have been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have the virus, regardless of vaccination status.

Testing appointments can be made at longbeach.gov/covid19testing or by calling 562-570-4636.

People also may contact their healthcare provider or area pharmacies to get tested, subject to availability. For other sites across Los Angeles County, people can visit https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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