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Huge turnout for COVID-19 rapid testing event held in SLO County

SLO County Covid Testing
San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department holds a free COVID-19 Pop-Up Rapid Testing Event in Atascadero on Thursday. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

ATASCADERO, Calif. -- The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department held a COVID-19 pop-up rapid testing event today in Atascadero.

"Today we are offering a free rapid test to community members in Atascadero," said Tom Cuddy, San Luis Obispo Public Health Department information officer. "It takes about 15 minutes. It's easy. It's quick. It's convenient and it's free."

The purpose of the clinic was to provide an opportunity for community members to receive a free COVID-19 rapid test before New Year’s Eve.

"Cases are starting to rise here and you factor that in with the Omicron environment, testing has become more important now than ever, especially as people head into the New Year's Eve, where they're gathering indoors," said Cuddy. "So really the main simple message here is to know before you go or gather."

Rapid antigen tests were available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Atascadero Lake Park Pavilion Community Room.

Around 200 people turned out for the event, including many that arrived early in the morning, including Cory Meyer of Atascadero

"(The line) is winding through the park," said Meyer. "I was really surprised when I first got here, I thought being right here at 9 o'clock, I'd be able to get in pretty quickly, so I was really surprised to be so far back in line."

Meyer said more than 100 people were in line when he arrived. He added the wait to receive a test was more than an hour.

"With the holidays here, I've been around quite a few people and I just want to make sure that I have not come into contact with Covid," said Meyer. "It was a good opportunity to come down here and get tested, so it's nice to know when the test results come out and everything will be fine."

While the pop-up clinic was a special event, Public Health is also providing free testing by appointment at community testing sites in Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

"We encourage our community members to make an appointment to get tested," said Cuddy. "Demand is extremely high for testing right now, so that's why we encourage our community members to make an appointment. We're not accepting walk-ins at this time. That could obviously change, but go to our website and register to schedule a test."

Cuddy indicted the four locations are able to provide about 1,900 tests daily. Results from tests performed at community sites are generally available in about two days.

To schedule an appointment, visit or, or call (833) 422-4255.

For COVID-19 updates in San Luis Obispo County, visit or call the recorded
Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903.

Phone assistance is available at (805) 781-5500 Monday - Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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