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Mobile Clinic Brings Free Coronavirus Testing To Sacramento Homeless Shelters

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —  A local health clinic is traveling throughout Sacramento County to provide free coronavirus testing for  Sacramento County's homeless population.

Elica Health Centers is using one of their three mobile clinics to target eight different shelters with the highest populations around the county.

"I feel like it is great for anyone to be able to be tested if they feel like they should be," said Aaron Luna, resident at Capitol Park Hotel Temporary Shelter.

The RV turned Mobile Health clinic is at Luna's front door at the Capitol Park Hotel Temporary Shelter. Luna has lived at the downtown Sacramento shelter since last September. He is one of more than 70 homeless residents at the shelter that were tested Wednesday.

"I'm out every day exposed to people," Luna explained. "I haven't felt sick and anyway so it wasn't a huge concern but it is just nice to have the prohibitive knowledge."

READ: Newsom: 15,000 Hotel Rooms To House Homeless In California

Shelter guests are first pre-screened and required to put on a mask, then they are taken to a tent to be tested. Results are available anytime between one to three days after they're submitted, according to the Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

"Bringing as many of these necessary units on-site to minimize the need for folks to leave to seek services elsewhere is very important," said Meghan Marshall with the Sacramento County Department of Health Services.

According to Elica Health, the shelters selected aside from Capitol Park Hotel include; STEP Shelter, Next Move Family Shelter, Common Ground VOA Family Shelter, North 5th, and North A.

The new service is a partnership between Elica Health Centers and Sacramento County. Elica Health Centers provides the mobile unit, staff and nurses. The nonprofit is paying for the services through federal funds, while the county is paying for kits and up to 500 tests for those in shelters with existing funding.

ALSO: 9-Year-Old Girl Buys Pizzas For Stockton Homeless Shelter

Aide Long, Director of Elica Health mobile medicine, said the response from the homeless community has been positive, testing more than 100 people in their three first days.

"Seeing those happy faces and the willingness to be tested was very rewarding, Long explained. "They are very willing to get tested because they know how dangerous it is," she said.

Luna said without the mobile unit, he would have not only gone untested but without ever knowing if he could be unknowingly infecting other people.

"It's definitely a concern, you don't want to be around people if you're going to infect them," he said.

The mobile clinic will continue to test at the eight shelters for two weeks. The plan to come back once a week to provide preventative care and treatment until the pandemic ends.

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