SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Santa Ana has more COVID-19 cases than any other city in Orange County, yet testing for some of the most vulnerable has become more difficult to access as funding for the largest free testing site at Santa Ana College ran out Sunday.
"It really couldn't have ended at a worse time, because that's really the point in which we're seeing a lot more need for testing," Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said. "We're seeing our residents that are looking for testing sites, that are looking for resources."
More than $30 million in CARES Act funding for COVID-19 relief programs had to be spent by the end of the year, but city officials said the funding was not aligned with the ongoing need.
And while there are super testing sites in Costa Mesa and Anaheim, reservations are needed and the sites can be hard to access for those who do not live nearby.
"It's a concern, because Santa Ana employees work in all cities in Orange County, and if they can't get tested, then they might be going to work sick," Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said.
The nonprofit Latino Health Access said it would continue to hold testing clinics in the county's most impacted cities — Santa Ana and Anaheim — but Sarmiento said he was upset that essential workers in his city were now faced with fewer testing options when they need them most.
"What makes most sense to me is that there should have been more investment by the county and the state in areas like Santa Ana, where we really are the epicenter in the county, where the need is," he said. "We have five of the highest zip codes in the county, so it should have been, I think, better thought out to say, 'Let's put a testing site or resources in the city where the need is the highest in the county.'"
Sarmiento said it is possible that help will come from the U.S. Congress, but questions remain about when they relief could arrive and whether it would directly benefit the residents of Santa Ana.
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