A COVID-19 testing site that remained closed in Boyle Heights for nearly six weeks following the Black Lives Matter uprising reopened on Tuesday with a new operator.
The drive-through site at 1724 Pennsylvania Ave., an empty lot behind Mariachi Plaza, is now operated by Total Testing Solutions, a private medical testing and consulting company.
“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted hardworking Latino families who are essential workers and who do not have the option of working from home during this pandemic, and this is why I am committed to expanding access to COVID-19 testing sites,” said Supervisor Hilda Solís, who announced the reopening on Tuesday. “This private-public partnership will remove barriers to healthcare for our Eastside communities.”
The supervisor thanked the company for “stepping up” to reopen the site, which had closed in late May. Originally the site had been operated by AltaMed, a healthcare provider that operates several community clinics in Southern California.
“We are very proud to bring free testing to Boyle Heights,” said Dr. Geoffrey Trenkle, chief medical officer for Total Testing Solutions. “It is imperative that we continue to test in our high concentration neighborhoods.”
A spokesperson for AltaMed said the health care provider closed down the original site, which had operated since mid April, out of security concerns over large crowds gathering at Mariachi Plaza, following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matters protests.
AltaMed operated a temporary, outdoors testing site at its clinic on First Street near St. Louis, but closed that as well. The health care provider, the spokesperson said, shifted priorities and it is no longer operating the larger testing sites. AltaMed will continue to provide individual testing and COVID-19 treatment at its clinics in Los Angeles and Orange County.
It’s unclear how the Boyle Heights testing site reopening will affect the already high number of new coronavirus cases reported daily in the neighborhood. The latest numbers from Tuesday showed 89 new cases for a total of 2,375 reported cases in Boyle Heights – which has one of the highest infection rates in the city of Los Angeles.
On-site testing at the reopened Boyle Heights site will be conducted Monday through Friday by appointment only. Anyone interested in getting tested should first contact their primary care provider. However, LA County does offer free COVID-19 testing to people who lack medical insurance.
For more information, those interested may visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing, dial 2-1-1 or call 323-238-3324.