For the past two days, Berkeley residents have been able to get tested for COVID-19 without assistance from a healthcare professional.
On Wednesday, the city began a two-day pilot of a COVID-19 testing kiosk in San Pablo Park, in which patients produce their own saliva sample by swabbing the inside of their mouths. Patients then place their swab in a plastic tube and send it through a slot into the kiosk, where a staff member readies the sample for testing.
Saliva swabs, which require patients to cough several times before swabbing, are less invasive than the nasal swabs typically used for COVID-19 testing. They can also be self-administered, keeping healthcare workers out of harms way.
Berkeley is hoping this new technique will help increase testing capacity, especially in communities of color that have been particularly hard-hit by the virus.
“Our goal is to use what is within our means to expand the availability of testing,” said Berkeley city manager Dee Williams-Ridley in a press release. “This pilot testing program gives us a tool to see how we might expand access to more parts of our community.”
The company providing the tests, Curative, already operates several kiosks in Los Angeles.