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story.lead_photo.caption A car pulls up for a drive-thru coronavirus test at First Baptist Church in California on Saturday, June 21, 2020. Around 24 people had been tested for COVID-19 in the first hour of the testing window. Photo by Austin Hornbostel / California Democrat.

CALIFORNIA, Mo. -- Community coronavirus testing came to California over the weekend, with more than 100 tests administered in the first day on site.

The Missouri National Guard and Department of Health and Senior Services were on site Friday and Saturday for a total of 11 hours performing tests. On day one, 117 tests were performed, and around 24 had been administered within the first hour of testing Saturday. Representatives with the National Guard said Saturday that tests in California were being performed at a rate of around 20 per hour.

Lt. Harold Holiway, of Missouri National Guard Task Force Pony Express, said his unit has been helping to facilitate COVID-19 testing across the state for around three weeks, with California being the seventh site they've hit. Holiway said an hour into testing Saturday, things were going smoothly.

"From our standpoint, we've done really well," he said. "I think we've accomplished all the goals that have been set for us, mostly because we have a lot of people helping us out."

In California, Holiway pointed specifically to contributions from the Moniteau County Health Center, which helped get the word out about testing coming to town throughout the past few weeks, along with First Baptist Church for lending its parking lot for the testing dates.

The state expected to perform about 500 tests at the California site prior to this week, but Holiway said from what he's seen so far, the total amount of tests actually performed at each testing site has varied quite a bit.

"I couldn't speak to why exactly — whether it's the news cycle or the differences in community, those kinds of things," he said.

He said his unit has been to mostly rural areas more recently but has also found itself in larger communities such as Columbia, Independence and Springfield across its time facilitating testing.

Holiway said whether this kind of community testing returns to areas like California is hard to predict, but it will likely be data-driven in the same way that this round of testing has been.

"We're never really planning out too far ahead, and I think that's probably why the Guard is used because we're pretty flexible," he said. "We can load up trucks and go where they need us."

Holiway said his unit is now headed to more rural sites located in southwest Missouri, after which they'll travel to nearby Branson.

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