TUSTIN, Calif. — Orange County has made 11,000 at-home COVID-19 tests available, first to areas with the highest number of cases in the county. Those areas include Santa Ana and Anaheim. Residents can register to have the kits delivered to their homes or the county says people in the hardest-hit areas can pick them up at select locations.
There are five participating community clinics that serve a high number of Anaheim and Santa Ana locals, where the kits will be available for pickup. Those clinics include:
- Family Health Matters, Fullerton
901 W Orangethorpe Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832
- Families Together of Orange County, Tustin
661 W First St #G, Tustin, CA 92780
- Korean Community Services, Anaheim
451 West Lincoln Ave., Suite 100, Anaheim 92805
- Serve the People Health Center, Santa Ana
1206 17th St #101, Santa Ana, CA 92701
- Southland Integrated Health Services, Garden Grove
862 Chapman Ave, Suite B, Garden Grove, CA 92841
Zach Briggs picked up an at-home test kit at Families Together OC in Tustin in a socially distanced way ahead of his holiday plans. The operation manager placed a kit on a bench and offered some guidelines. And Briggs picked it up and walked back to his car. He explained he wanted to get tested because, “I just wanted to make sure I was good to see my family.”
He says he does have plans to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones. “I don’t want to get anyone sick. So, I’m doing that thing that I think is right. And hopefully it comes out ok.”
Briggs took his COVID-19 test kit home and started the process. Step 1. Register. That’s where Briggs hit his first snag. He received two sheets of papers with two different websites to register his kit. The first one didn’t work, and he tried the second site. He said so far, the process was, “not that easy.”
This website did work at first, but Briggs then ran into another issue. He got an error message. Not just one. Briggs received several error messages, even when trying on different browsers.
Ultimately by Monday afternoon, Briggs was unable to register. He said, “It’s a little challenging.” Ambry Genetics explained that the registration software had a “bug”. But the Aliso-Viejo based lab says it was able to fix the bug and Briggs should be able to register now.
Instead of waiting for the fix since he had a work call to get to, Briggs skipped to Step 2 of the process — the spit test. He read the directions, “Do not eat, chew gum, or drink water prior to collecting your sample.”
And then he went for it. He spit into a tube with a funnel like top with a lid open. He spit into the tube twice, which was enough to get a proper sample size which is marked by a “Fill line” on the tube included in the kit. He followed several other steps, including mixing the membrane in the first lid into his sample, replaced the lid with a new lid, and shook up the substance for ten seconds.
As he shook the vile that contained his saliva he said, “The test part is easy enough. The registration part didn’t work out.”
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do says by the end of the this year, 500,000 at-home test kits will be available for pickup or delivery in Orange County. “So, if we start think of testing as just a part of this safe COVID practice that we do, I think it will help all of us as a community to help control the spread of covid-19," he said.
Brigg says he remains hopeful even without being able to register, he can still obtain his results before Thanksgiving. He packed up his sample in the included return labeled package, and dropped it off at a FedEx.
Briggs says it’s a good idea to have at-home and convenient, free tests available. But he also says, “I just can’t imagine that if it’s difficult to do the test that everyone is gonna to take advantage of it.”
Ambry Genetics says if the sample is put in a drop-off box by the daily cutoff time, the package will arrive at its facility for testing overnight. A representative says people who register their kits could have their test results as early as the next morning (assuming they got the package in a FedEx drop box by the daily pickup cutoff, or at least within 24 hours of receiving the package at their lab. Ambry says the county has set a 1,500 daily processing limit for the at-home saliva COVID-19 tests.