Free coronavirus tests an instant hit with border commuters

Border Report Tour

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The County of San Diego is now operating a coronavirus testing facility at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest land crossing in the Western Hemisphere.

The site opened on Wednesday and so far, things seem to be running smoothly with a steady stream of people lining up to get tested.

The walk-up tests are being offered at the PedEast crossing where northbound commuters exit the U.S. side of the inspection area. Tests are available from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. The tests are free and people can typically expect results in three to five days, health officials say.

Omar Valdez is a U.S. Citizen who lives in Tijuana, Mexico, but works north of border. He decided to get a free coronavirus test at a new testing center located at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“My understanding is I’m part of a group who may not know if they have it or not, so I might as well get it done with,” said Omar Valdez, who described himself as an everyday border crosser.

Valdez is a U.S. Citizen who lives in Tijuana but works on the north side of the border.

The testing has been set up for people like Valdez and essential workers who reside in Mexico.

“I think it’s a great idea to have it be accessible to everyone walk everywhere to get tested, not everyone has a car to be able to drive and drive-thru, this is very practical actually,” said Valdez.

“Lucky I came across the border today and found it, got it right here on the spot.”

The southern portion of San Diego County has been the hardest hit region during the on-going pandemic, and county officials say it’s crucial to protect people who live and work on either side of the border, crossing daily.

People exiting PedEast at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“It’s really about accessibility. We try to ensure that we’re meeting those needs in each of our communities. We know this is a very fluid border — a very busy border,” said Barbara Jimenez, who works with the county’s Health and Human Services Department. “So if they can stop by on their way to work, or as they’re going home, we’ll be able to give them that opportunity to get their test.”

Officials emphasized that people will not be asked about their legal status in order to get tested.

The new site comes as President Donald Trump weighs creating new restrictions on entering the U.S., including those that could keep U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from coming into the country for work, in the name of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

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