OTAY MESA — Travelers visiting the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) pedestrian terminal can now also get a free COVID-19 rapid test.
A collaboration between the state of California, the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership (BPP) and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego, led to the opening of a new on-site testing site available to people over age 2.
The program will continue until late July, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The testing site is inside the arrival area on the U.S. side. Bilingual outreach workers staff it, and it has the capacity to offer up to 150 COVID rapid tests per day.
Since it opened a week ago, more than 500 COVID tests have been performed, of which, only one has come back positive, said Andy Carey, executive director of the BPP.
With this partnership, “(we) will continue to serve the unique community of U.S. and Mexican nationals who travel regularly in our binational border region,” he said.
The program is funded by the California Department of Public Health. The testing site will allow health officials to track and monitor COVID-19 results, detect variants and provide free in-home tests and educational materials to travelers, representatives said.
The site is operated by the Mexican consulate’s ventanilla de salud or health desk.
Testing is available for anyone, regardless of whether they are travelers. “Everyone is welcome, and has the right to these free services,” said Carlos González Gutiérrez, consul general of Mexico in San Diego.
CBX, an enclosed 390-foot-long pedestrian bridge, connects Otay Mesa directly to the Tijuana airport. In 2021, it served more than 2.7 million passengers, an increase of 64 percent compared to 2020.
In the first four months of 2022, it has seen an increase of up to 40 percent compared to 2019. It is expected that the bridge will end the year with nearly 4 million passengers, estimated Jorge Goytortúa, executive director of CBX.
“It is important that we are always reminding people that they must have a travel culture,” he said. “One where we acknowledge COVID has not gone away, and one where if you come back from your vacation, you can get immediately tested to identify if you are infected and prevent further spreading.”
Leonardo Goldstein, a San Diego resident who returned Wednesday from a trip to Mexico City, said that the test site is convenient since he was already contemplating taking a test upon his return.
“It is a concern to be traveling, to be on the plane, and with so many people in the airports,” he said.
Reproduced from an article in The San Diego Union Tribune