HAYWARD (CBS SF) — Hayward city officials announced Sunday they were converting a local fire house into a testing facility for the coronavirus.

Officials said they were taking the action “to take pressure off hospital emergency rooms, provide quicker answers for recently exposed first responders and health care workers, and to enhance the region’s capacity to suppress new transmissions through isolation after testing.”

The facility, the first city-run testing facility in the Bay Area, will open its doors Monday at Hayward Fire Station #7, 28270 Huntwood Avenue.

“Suppression, through isolation after testing, or SIT, as we call it, is an approach that has proven to be most effective in countries on the leading edge of this pandemic,” said Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras in a press release.

Officials said the testing site was being made possible through a partnership with Menlo Park’s Avellino Lab USA, Inc.

The testing center, which will operate everyday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be staffed by Hayward Fire Department firefighter-paramedics, and supported by ambulance company emergency-medical technicians.

Officials said it was free to the public and open to anyone regardless of where they live or immigration status.

People who present themselves for testing will first go through a two-step screening process for COVID-19 disease before being administered a test, which involves swabbing of the nasal cavities and back of the throat.

To be tested, people will be screened for illness, which includes fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, and/or other respiratory symptoms.

No referral from a medical doctor is required to be screened. Results can be available in as little as six hours or the next day in most cases.

Officials said the site was was outfitted with enough kits to test up to 350 people a day and the Hayward Fire Department and Avellino were working with other Bay Area communities to help open additional testing sites elsewhere in the region.

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