Mecca Testing Site Plagued with Problems

Mecca Testing Site Plagued with Problems

Regina Yurrita

A disconnected phone ring is what Meregildo Ortiz received after calling the phone line and attempting several times to make an appointment to test for COVID-19.

“I don’t have any symptoms, but i’m doing it for mine and my family’s protection. I work out in the fields everyday so I want to be sure, but they’re not letting me do a walk-in without an appointment, said Ortiz. 

There are several reasons why testing is lagging in the east valley. Community members work long hours,they may think they need money for testing or they may be afraid of being asked about their immigration status.

When this testing site opened advocates thought it would help solve some of these issues and combat misinformation.

However, the state-run site has been plagued with problems from the beginning. Opening day was actually postponed two days because state officials failed to reach out to volunteers.

“I also came by last week to try to take the test, but it was closed,” said Ortiz. 

The county says the number of tests completed at this site is far lower than other nearby testing sites, like the one at Indio Fairgrounds.

“We need to do more outreach, sometimes our farmworkers are also not aware,” said V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County Board of Supervisors,Fourth District.

The need for a testing facility is critical in these communities since the majority of residents are essential workers who lack medical resources.

“We need to protect our health care workers, our farmworkers and our grocery workers,” said Perez.

With the county changing its rules for economic recovery, safety precautions are still recommended. 

“Even if you’re asymptomatic, we encourage you to get tested. It’s a good way to determine if there’s a coronavirus outbreak,” said Yaoska Machado, who works for Riverside County Department of Public Health.

NBC Palm Springs reached out to the California Department of Public Health to get answers about the problems this testing site is facing, they have not yet gotten back to us.

Appointments can also be made online by going to https://lhi.care/covidtesting