Vehicles snaked through a parking lot on Saturday in Santa Maria, but it wasn’t a fancy latte or blended coffee drink being sought by people.
“Everybody was just incredibly thankful that we were making this available,” Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said.
About 6,750 test kits were handed out before the event ended early after giving away the supply, according to Do-Reynoso.
“What I’m very impressed with is how smoothly (it went),” Do-Reynoso said, joking with a colleague they were more efficient than a Starbucks drive-through line. “It was so fast. I was really pleased by the set up and the community response.”
Approximately a dozen people showed up to set up for the giveaway and found a line already forming well ahead of the 10 a.m. start, so they began distributing tests earlier.
The stream of vehicles remained steady as they entered off Centerpointe Parkway near Betteravia Road and left onto the different segment of the road near Miller Street after winding by the Santa Maria Health Center.
By 12:30 p.m., organizers announced on social media the tests had run out, and they wrapped up the giveaway by about 1:30 p.m.
“People have been clamoring for them because of the shortage. This was really good access,” Do-Reynoso said.
Most vehicles received two boxes. However, recognizing that some families have more people and not wanting drivers to go through the line twice, some received more kits to accommodate their unique household needs within reason, Do-Reynoso said.
“We’re flexible,” she added.
The county received 165,000 test kits and has distributed most of them to assorted partners, including government agencies and organizations, for distribution.
“Because there was a gap in Santa Maria, we wanted to do this pop-up so the community would have access,” she said.
A similar pop-up test giveaway is planned for the South Coast area with a Public Health partner in the near future.
“I think the strength of Public Health is that we can pull off a big-scale event like this,” Do-Reynoso added.
The first home test giveaway occurred a few weeks ago, but it didn’t include the Santa Maria Valley.
Do-Reynoso said the first round of tests concentrated on areas where testing availability was more scarce and a recognition of a limited supply since they had only 14,000 test kits to hand out.
“We knew this was coming, so it was more an allocation of resources where needed and it was a one-time deal,” she added.
The Santa Maria Valley continues to have PCR testing available at the Santa Maria Fairpark along with other locations.
A list of countywide testing locations with links for appointments can be found on the Public Health Department COVID-19 website.
Community distribution events for future at-home antigen test kits will occur in the coming days. Sites open to the public will be listed at publichealthsbc.org/testing.
The 2-1-1 Call Center will be available to direct people who do not have access to the Internet as sites are opened.
To order the federal government’s free home kits, with four tests per household, sign up at covidtests.gov.
Other tests can be purchased from local pharmacies or online although can be hard to find, but reimbursement for those purchases will be available for private insurance customers.