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A partnership with a Menlo Park genetics laboratory firm will allow Hayward to open a dedicated center offering free Covid-19 coronavirus testing on Monday.

The Covid-19 Testing Center at the city’s fire station at 28270 Huntwood Ave. can handle up to 370 tests a day, “but we don’t expect it to get that high,” said city spokesman Chuck Finnie.

Tests are intended for those displaying symptoms, first-responders, and health care workers with recent suspected exposures to the novel coronavirus.

The city said in an announcement Sunday:

“(The intent is) 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.”

Finnie said:

“We don’t want the wondering and the worried to come — they need to stay home. We want sick people to come.”

He added:

“It’s not a test people are going to want to take unless they have to. It’s not pleasant.”

The test involves swabbing of nasal cavities and the back of the throat.

Hayward Fire Department firefighter-paramedics will staff the center, with assistance from ambulance company emergency-medical technicians.

The city said:

“No referral from a medical doctor is required to be screened.”

The center will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and free and open to “anyone regardless of where they live or immigration status,” according to the announcement.

Finnie said:

“We know it’s going to be chaotic on the first day.”

People will first undergo a two-part screening for illness, which includes fever, cough and/or shortness of breath and/or other respiratory symptoms.

Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr 2019 novel coronavirus test.

At an initial drive-up station, people will be asked about symptoms, then either cleared to leave or sent to a walkup tent to be screened for illness.

The city has appropriated funding for the center with the hope of reimbursement from county and state public health agencies.

The center is made possible through a city partnership with Menlo Park-based Avellino Lab USA Inc., a company that specializes in “gene therapy and molecular diagnostics with a focus in precision medicine for eye care.”

The laboratory will analyze the tests and “results can be available in as little as six hours or the next day in most cases.”

Finnie said Avellino is a civic-minded company that is supplying the tests “at a very, very good price” and is also looking for similar partnerships with other jurisdictions to open additional centers.

He said officials from Fremont were assessing the Hayward center on Sunday.

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