New COVID-19 Mobile Testing Site in South LA

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas announced a new COVID-19 mobile testing site will open Wednesday at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) to serve residents in Willowbrook, South Los Angeles, and surrounding neighborhoods.

CDU is also slated to begin analyzing demographic data to determine the novel coronavirus’ effect on diverse communities across Los Angeles County.

“It is heartening to know that residents of South LA and the surrounding areas will now have a convenient place to get tested,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “It is imperative, now more than ever, to ensure that we are continuing our work against longstanding health disparities by ensuring greater equity and access to resources in our communities.”

“As the statistics are now showing, under-resourced communities of color are being disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus. However, there have been very few, if any, COVID-19 testing sites in these communities,” said CDU President and CEO Dr. David M. Carlisle. “Testing is critical to disease detection that helps us ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of COVID-19 — for everyone. It is extremely important that we make these tests available to hard-hit communities of color. CDU as a community-founded institution has been in South Los Angeles for 53 years with a commitment to eliminating health disparities. This is why we are partnering to open a testing center and better serve our community.”
CDU is located across the street from the state-of-the-art Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, which provides an array of vital services to the community, including urgent care, hospitalization and recuperative care for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Besides serving as a mobile testing site, CDU has been tapped to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to collect demographic data, including information on ethnicity and zip code in relation to the number of tests performed, test results, hospitalization and fatality rates.

“As one of the most diverse counties in the country, we know that COVID-19 does not discriminate along ethnic or community lines,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This demographic data is vital to ensuring that our resources are appropriately and equitably distributed, tailored to serve the communities most in need.”

“The higher death rates from COVID-19 in Black communities is sadly, not surprising,” said Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Dean of the College of Medicine at CDU. “There is an old saying in the Black community that when America gets a cold, the Black community gets pneumonia. The disparities that exists in health care are not explained by any one factor; multiple things add up to increase risk and create more severe outcomes.  Poverty, institutional racism, poor public schools, lack of health insurance and lack of access to healthcare are some of those factors.  With COVID-19, the higher rates of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney failure among African-Americans help explain the higher rates of death from the disease among Black Americans.”