Coronavirus: Hayward opens free COVID-19 testing center, greeted by massive line

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- People started arriving at 6 a.m. Monday in Hayward to try and get tested for COVID-19 at a new test site that opened at 9 a.m.

"I knew that was coming. I knew there was going to be a large number of people that turn out, worried, because everyone is worried. That is what's going on in the world today," Hayward Fire Capt. Don Nichelson.

But many people were turned away earlier Monday because they didn't have a fever of at least 100 degrees.

"As you can see, a lot of people are getting turned away," he said. "For our walk-up, it's at a ratio of about one to 10, so one person gets a test, 10 people turned away. For our drive up, one gets tested. Five are turned away."

Having a fever was the key to getting a test -- until the city loosened the requirements Monday night, allowing people to get tested without a fever.

Officials don't want someone faking a cough to get a test.

They only have 370 tests for each day.

Fever is the one sure way they can measure whether someone should be tested, officials said before changing the requirements.

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"He's 14," said Mandy Hailey as she sat with her teenage son in an SUV. "He's had a fever over 100, about 104. It's 101 today. The coughing and we've also had nausea and diarrhea as well."

That young man was eligible for a test, but not everyone who showed up at the fire station on Huntwood Avenue would get tested, far from it.

Beyond the fear of being sick or infected with COVID-19, those who line up for the testing are also dealing with the reality of being in this place, in this moment in time.

"Honestly driving in it's kind of surreal," said Zurina Mujadedy, as she waited in line. "We see the signs and everything, it seems like we're in a movie or something."

Those who are tested will receive results by telephone in as few as six hours or as long as 24.

Hayward is buying the tests from Avelino Labs in Menlo Park. The lab is expected to have a patient's results for them in 6 to 24 hours.

Hayward officials say they hope to keep the site open for three weeks. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The site is located on Huntwood Avenue in front of Fire Station number 7.

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