(Photo illustration by Fernando Zhiminaicela/Pixabay)

Contra Costa Health Services will open a community testing hub in Richmond this week, offering fast COVID-19 coronavirus testing to residents in the western part of the county.

The new testing site, located in the parking lot of Richmond’s Civic Center Plaza, will open Wednesday and accept both appointments and walk-in patients, according to CCHS.

In September, the county also plans to add drive-thru testing service to the site, which would expand its testing capacity to 400 people per day.

“Our testing program has already shown that communities of color, and specifically some neighborhoods in West County, are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” county Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said.

The Civic Center Plaza testing site is replacing a smaller site at Kennedy High School that the county and the West Contra Costa Unified School District opened earlier this summer.

Test turnaround time at the county’s laboratory is currently averaging two to three days, according to CCHS, while a contracted private lab is averaging two to five days as of Monday.

CCHS operates nine free testing sites in the county, with the state operating an additional three. Residents can make a coronavirus test appointment by calling (844) 421-0804 between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or visiting coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-tested.

Being tested has no up-front cost, according to CCHS, and residents can be tested without medical insurance. Patients will receive their test results either via text message or in the mail.