South LA coronavirus testing begins at mobile site in Willowbrook

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Community members line up for the drive-thru testing. Photo credit: Ted Soqui.

South LA coronavirus testing began on a rainy Wednesday morning, as a mobile COVID-19 station administered tests to car-bound community members in the Willowbrook neighborhood. 

Medical professionals wearing protective clothing and rain gear staffed the site at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and provided window-side tests to patients in cars.

The testing site arrives a day after Los Angeles County health officials released preliminary data Tuesday indicating that black Angelenos were dying at a slightly higher rate than other races. The county report cites that of 169 people who had died of COVID-19, 17% were African-American. LA County is 9% black, which suggests a slightly higher proportional death rate than other populations. The data reflect national trends in large metropolitan areas like New York City, where African-Americans and Latinos face higher death rates due to coronavirus.  

Photojournalist Ted Soqui visited the mobile COVID-19 test site on a stormy morning and documented the workers and patients at the South LA drive-through testing site.


Workers usher in cars at a COVID-19 mobile testing site at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in the Willowbrook neighborhood of South Los Angeles. 
Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


Workers clad from head to toe in protective gear administer tests. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


A worker holds a sign asking for safety for everyone involved in the day’s testing efforts. 

Both residents and workers are being very careful amid the pandemic. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.



A rainy day didn’t stop testing.  
Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


To get tested, residents had to pre-register online and make an appointment. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


A community member shows a worker their appointment information. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


Sheila Marie Young, MD, looks on as testing continued. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


Dr. Young helped guide community members throughout the day. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wore a mask on-site.  Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


A mural of MLK Jr. overlooks the testing. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


Despite the rain and circumstances, Dr. Roberto Vargas smiles through his mask.  Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


 Community members swab their own or throats during the test, and then dispose of it. Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.


A community member holds a sign of encouragement in the rain.  Photo credit: Ted Soqui for KCRW.