Against the backdrop of the iconic LA Memorial Coliseum and the Banc of California Stadium at Exposition Park, an empty parking lot is finally back in action. Instead of buzzing with tailgaters and Trojans fans though, it’s decorated with coned-off driving lanes, health care workers, and grey shirts. It’s the temporary home of Team Rubicon’s third medical operation: a drive-through COVID-19 testing site—Verily’s Baseline COVID-19 Testing Program—being run at the direction of the California Department of Public Health and the California State Testing Task Force. While Team Rubicon volunteers, or Greyshirts, get patients from drive-in to drive-away, health care providers from Verily’s partner organizations to do the testing.
“It’s reassuring to know that we are doing our part to help get back to some kind of normal, getting people back to work, getting people back to living a less worried life,” said Badr Bakhat, an enthusiastic new Greyshirt who has been actively involved with TR’s recent COVID-19 operations.
The Verily testing site is by appointment only. After checking a client’s appointment confirmation, a Greyshirt directs the client to drive up through the first two stations. From there, Greyshirts check IDs and scan the client’s requisition before sending them to the testing station, where Verily medical teams, in head-to-toe PPE, reach into the vehicle and administer the test with a nasopharyngeal swab.
The site is able to test up to 400 people per day for COVID-19, and since launching in early May, 1,539 Angelenos have been tested. It’s not Team Rubicon’s first foray into coronavirus testing: In April, the disaster relief organization launched a mobile COVID-19 testing site alongside Charlotte, NC’s Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center.
Los Angeles, however, is one of the first major cities in the nation to offer free testing to all residents, giving this site the potential to play a vital role in tracking the spread of the virus and potentially help ease LA’s stay-at-home order.
Throughout the month of May, Team Rubicon will continue to assist Verily with coronavirus testing at Exposition Park. The partnership has already expanded to Lake County and San Francisco, where the site offers walk-up testing, making it possible to serve those often underserved: people at risk for the coronavirus who don’t have access to a car.
In addition to the L.A., San Francisco, and Lake County sites, Team Rubicon and Verily will be opening at least five additional testing sites—spanning 12 California counties—in the next few weeks, with the ability to serve a total population of more than 200,000 residents.
“California’s testing capacity has multiplied in recent weeks thanks to collaborations like the one with Team Rubicon,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We are proud to work alongside them as part of the state’s comprehensive efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in California’s rural communities.”
Natural disasters or humanitarian crisis, Team Rubicon has been increasingly finding ways to plug in and meet community demands across the U.S. “Whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, or a testing site, they all hold the same value,” explains Lorraine Riser the Team Rubicon task force leader overseeing the LA testing site. “Being able to fulfill a need for the community is what counts.”