MONTEBELLO, Calif. — At the Centro de Vida Victoriosa Church in Montebello, at least 70% percent of the congregation has come down with COVID-19 during the pandemic. 

What You Need To Know

  • Churches in among large Latino populations are hosting mobile COVID testing sites

  • The hope is that it will create a more trusting environment and result in more people getting tested

  • More than 500 people were recently vaccinated at The Centro de Vida Victoriosa Church in Montebello

  • LA Voice is a community faith-based organization that helped bring testing sites to Latino churches

"They work in restaurants, markets. They are exposed. The work they do is essential, but it’s reality," said Pastor Carlos Rincón.

Overall, Latinos in Los Angeles County have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, dying at three times the rate of white Angelenos. Pastor Rincón said that is why he was so proud to help bring a free COVID testing site to his church's parking lot with the hopes it will improve participation.

"Some of the neighbors already come to me and told me 'Thank you for having this because I know that I can trust because it’s a church. We know you,'" Rincón said.

So far, roughly 200 people have been tested at the Centro de Vida Victoriosa Church in the last few weeks, mostly from the surrounding neighborhood. Rincon said most of the church members are immigrant families from Central America and Mexico, who are hesitant to get tested at a county clinic or just simply don’t have the means of getting there. The church is closer and often much less crowded.

LA Voice is a community organization made up of several multi-racial and multi faith leaders. The group has primarily worked to bring testing to underserved communities. However, over the weekend, Rincón coordinated with FEMA to help get 500 people vaccinated in two days at his church. The line stretched down the sidewalk as people anxiously awaited their turn. One woman showed up with her mother.

"She’s a babysitter. She takes care of kids, so she also wanted to do it for them,” said Veronica Jara, who belongs to the church.

For those still awaiting the vaccine, testing continues to play an important role in stopping the spread of COVID. 

Henry Castañon is making it part of his routine. He showed up with his brother, Matthew.

"I like getting tested like every week or two, so just to be aware of myself and my nieces," Castañon said.

Those working at the mobile site said they are still seeing a lot of first timers and others who are misinformed or simply uninformed about testing.

"'Why do I need to get tested? I got tested three months ago or my daughter was playing with another little girl that also had symptoms, so I don’t think I gotta get tested. I just want to test my daughter,'" said Medical Assistant Karen Lacayo.

"If you don’t know, come check it out and do a test you know, for your own good," Castañon said. It takes like five minutes of your own lifetime."

A small price to pay he said to protect family, friends, and this vulnerable community.

For more information on COVID testing sites or vaccine eligibility, visit the L.A. County website.