New COVID-19 test site in Oakland offers services in 12 Asian languages, including Tagalog

A new multilingual and multicultural COVID-19 testing site tailored for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was unveiled this week in Oakland’s Chinatown.

Located at Madison Park, the site features testing, information, guidance, and support services in 12 Asian languages, including Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Mongolian.

Tests are available to everyone. Payment or insurance are not required, immigration status will not be asked, and it is not necessary to be a patient at Asian Health Services to receive a test and follow-up support.

The site was inaugurated on Tuesday, August 18 with Sherry Hirota, CEO of Asian Health Services in Oakland, Colleen Chawla, Director of Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and Dr. Jocelyn Freeman Garrick, Deputy Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services and Lead for Alameda County’s Testing Taskforce present, along with other community organizations.

“Placing a testing site in Oakland’s Chinatown centralizes a critical resource within a community that carried the burden of stigma since the early days of this pandemic,” said Alameda County District 3 Supervisor Wilma Chan. “But this virus has no boundaries and it’s essential for anyone who is sick, has come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, or is working on the frontlines to come get tested and receive care and support.”

Representatives reminded the community that it is possible to have COVID-19 and spread it without experiencing symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, body aches or muscle pain, headache, sore throat, runny nose or congestion, nausea, diarrhea, or a new loss of smell or taste.

“Alameda County’s partnerships with community clinics like Asian Health Services has been invaluable,” said Garrick, Deputy Medical Director of Alameda County Emergency Medical Services and Lead for Alameda County’s Testing Taskforce. “Members of hard to reach populations are able to access testing from trusted providers in their communities.”

Asian Health Services recently completed a survey of 1,300 Asian Americans in Alameda County. Key findings revealed a 3% rate of COVID-19 testing among Asian Americans, compared to an approximate 10% rate of testing of all ethnicities in California. The study cites high rates of fear and anxiety, loss of jobs, and severe lack of income and food.

“We are fighting back against being both blamed and ignored in this pandemic,” said Hirota. “Our community masked early, felt the rise in anti-Asian hate, and went underground. Now we must ensure that each of us is safe and supported. Our goal is to make sure our community has access to in language and in culture education, testing, counseling, case management, referrals, and compassion. We hope to see our community out in force to test and receive care, in language, and in culture.”

The Asian Health Services and Alameda County Community test site is located at Madison Park (810 Jackson Street, Oakland, 94607) on Tuesdays at 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00 am to 4:00 p.m. Appointments can be made For assistance, please call the Asian Health Services Multilingual Helpline at 510-735-3222.

Testing plays a vital role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Alameda County has a coordinated strategy to place testing sites in areas to best reach disproportionately impacted communities of color, including the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Alameda County is well passed its testing capacity goal of 3,100 tests per day.

Additional free community testing sites are available in West Oakland, Fruitvale, East Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward and Pleasanton.

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