Los Angeles County Health Services Expands Free Community-Based COVID-19 Testing in New Partnership with Black Churches
LA County Health Services today, with partners from the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, launched a new program to expand access to free community-based COVID-19 testing in the Black community. The testing expansion is part of the Black Church COVID-19 Testing Partnership, a statewide initiative that will have 35 Black churches across California host pop-up COVID-19 testing. The program goal is to test 150 individuals at each church location daily through June 30.
The launch included drive-thru COVID-19 testing on-site at First AME Church of Los Angeles, the oldest church founded by African Americans in the city and one of the eight churches that will host COVID-19 testing sites. Testing at these church locations is free to the community regardless of health insurance status and will be available through June 30. The new testing sites at the eight churches will not require appointments, reducing barriers that can keep community members from getting tested.
Faith leaders and the church community have and continue to be a trusted source of information and influence for the Black community. Black churches will serve as a known and trusted safe space for accessing testing, given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the Black community.
“LA County is grateful to work alongside First AME Church of Los Angeles, a long-time leader in this community, to roll out this new program that will increase COVID-19 testing access for the County’s Black residents,” said Los Angeles County Health Services COVID-19 Testing Lead Dr. Clemens Hong. “While LA County has made strides in expanding access to COVID-19 testing, this new partnership will further ensure equitable access to testing for the Black community as testing remains a critical piece of reducing community transmission and improving health outcomes.”
“Throughout this past year, we have witnessed firsthand the disparate impacts of the pandemic on our Black communities due to years of underinvestment and structural racism,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Whether it’s their physical, mental, or financial well-being, Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. That’s why it’s important that we not only devote more time and resources to address this disparity, but we must also work with trusted community- and faith-based organizations who are best equipped to meet the needs of the communities they serve. That’s why I applaud this partnership in creating a new program to expand access to free community-based COVID-19 testing at First AME Church of Los Angeles and other Black churches across the County. Expanding access to testing remains an important step in helping slow the transmission of the virus, and that is exactly what this partnership does. The launch of this partnership comes at a pivotal moment during this year’s Black History Month where we are reminded of the ongoing work to address inequities among our Black communities.”
“In order to ensure an equitable recovery from this pandemic we must make testing and vaccinations accessible to the communities most impacted,” said Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor to the Second District. “This why I am proud that First AME Church will be an added resource for COVID-19 testing for Second District residents. Our faith-based organizations have consistently shown up for our communities. Including COVID-19 testing only strengthens our efforts to end this pandemic.”
“The opening of COVID-19 coronavirus testing sites at Black Churches across the state is a great step in the right direction,” said Rev. J Edgar Boyd, Senior Minister and CEO of First AME Church of Los Angeles. “The concept of opening testing centers in neighborhood churches makes it entirely convenient for persons to be tested in neighborhoods where they live and/or work. Today, the African American Community Empowerment Council of California, working in collaboration with the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation of San Francisco, will launch an effort to provide testing to communities that have been under-tested and under-served. Such a lack of services, in Black communities in California, and across America, has resulted in a disproportionate and an inequitable higher percentage of deaths and infections by this deadly pandemic.”
“The possibilities are unlimited when people came together in unity,” said Rev. Gerald Agee, Founder and Pastor of Friendship Christian Church, who also spoke at the launch of the Partnership.
For more information, visit https://www.aacec-cal.org/covid19testing.
About Los Angeles County Health Services
Los Angeles County Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 27 health centers and four hospitals - and expanded network of community partner clinics – DHS annually provides direct care for over 600,000 unique patients, employs over 23,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion. For additional information regarding DHS, please visit www.dhs.lacounty.gov.