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Free COVID-19 tests offered at drive-thru, contact free site in Berkeley

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BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – Just three days into a new COVID-19 testing site in Berkeley and so far, at least 1,300 people have been tested.

It’s a drive-thru, contact free operation and the test is totally free.

The city of Berkeley has managed to keep positive cases low during the pandemic and a big key has been frequent testing.

Through the second of October, expect long lines entering the North Berkeley BART Station from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Not for trains but for testing.

The drive-thru contact-free COVID-19 testing site opened Friday and more than 1,300 people have already taken the self-administered test.

Mara Zackman and her husband Odin brought their 7-year-old son so all three could get tested.

None are showing symptoms of the virus, but feel frequent testing helps everyone.

“They might be traveling to visit his grandmother and we wouldn’t want to bring it to her,” Mara and Odin Zackman said. 

It’s simple — Book an appointment online through the city or curative incorporated, the COVID-19 testing company partnering with Berkeley, and show up.

Then you’ll be extended a lab kit, and instructed on how to swab yourself.

Finally, just drop the finished kit in a bin and be on your way.

“It’s important to get tested to make myself feel assured that I don’t have anything, and if I do, I want to isolate myself so I don’t give it to someone else,” another person said. 

The test itself only takes about two minutes and the city says results can be available within two days.

“With air quality, one of the things that we liked about the drive-thru process was that people could do it within their own car, there was a very minimal amount of air coming in,” Matthai Chakko said. 

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko says the drive-thru site also makes testing available to more vulnerable populations like seniors.

So far, Berkeley is on the lower end of positive COVID-19 cases in Alameda County registering just over 3-percent.

By comparison, Oakland accounts for nearly 40-percent of the county’s cases and Hayward hovering just above 14-percent.

No insurance is needed and the test is free.

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