Free COVID test sites open in Hawthorne, San Gabriel Valley to meet community demand

The omicron variant continues to spread at a dizzying pace and the demand for COVID-19 tests is soaring as well. That's especially true in smaller communities, with fewer resources.

At his job at a rental car company, Erick Lopez is constantly concerned about the variant.

Finding a testing place has been tough so Lopez was glad he was able to get in at new testing site that just opened up in Hawthorne.

People waiting in line were greeted with loud welcoming cheers by the staff at the site, which is at the Betty Ainsworth Sports Center on West El Segundo Boulevard.

And those lines went down the block.

John Souza is the CEO of Reliant Health Services, which partnered with the City of Hawthorne to sponsor the free testing site. He says the testing demand, especially in Hawthorne and other South Bay communities, has been very high.

The site offers free rapid antigen and PCR testing to those in nearby communities, where many live in overcrowded conditions, have little access to health care and work in essential jobs.

"When you're living in a diverse community, people always have to leave the house to go to work," Souza said. "It's very important to ascertain on a bi-weekly basis if you're positive or not."

Experts say with more tests becoming available, everyone should check their COVID health status regularly to keep families, workplaces and schools safe.

Website for free COVID test kits is here. How does it work, and how many can I order?
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The Biden administration is working to make COVID-19 rapid test kits more available and accessible to Americans as case numbers soar.

"Everybody is exposed every day. The more social you are, the more you go to the office, you go to church, you go to the theater. If you're active at all the more you're exposed. So we really recommend everybody to go ahead and get tested."

In the San Gabriel Valley, two new pop-up testing centers opened - one at the YMCA in Alhambra and another at Smith Park in San Gabriel. Both sites will be offering testing throughout January. Appointments are required.

At the Hawthorne site, you can also pre-register but walk-ins are welcome, Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The goal is to keep that site open until summer.

"We will extend if needed....Our goal is making sure it's accessible and that's really truly what our goal is," Souza added.

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