by Carolyn Bick
Author’s Note: Please skip to the end if you are only looking for the testing sites’ dates, locations, and hours of operation.
Residents of South King County will have access to two free, one-day pop-up novel coronavirus testing sites on June 13 and June 14, thanks to a partnership among Somali Health Board (SHB), King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice, Seattle-King County Public Health, and Tina Knowles-Lawson’s #IDidMyPart Mobile Testing Campaign.
Knowles-Lawson and her daughter Beyoncé Knowles-Carter first launched the #IDidMyPart testing campaign in Houston, Texas. It was intended “to start a movement to encourage Black communities to prioritize health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the campaign’s page on Beyoncé’s website. Located in Renton and Federal Way, the King County sites are prepared to test at least 500 people each. They are specifically meant to serve people of color, who have suffered the highest mortality rates and worst health outcomes as a result of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. No insurance is required and people looking to get tested do not have to be documented. Both sites will accept drive-throughs and walk-ups.
Hamdi Mohamed, the Immigrant and Refugee Policy Advisor with King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice who spearheaded the proposal for the partnership, said that the sites will specifically be staffed with “volunteers … that look like the community,” in order to help facilitate community trust of the sites.
SHB Executive Director Dr. Ahmed Ali said in an email statement that SHB has received calls from frightened, symptomatic community members seeking advice.
“They seem scared to be forcibly put into [an] isolation center or hospital bed with no family visitations,” he said. “Faced with both economic hardships and limited access to health services, we’re taking upon ourselves to ensure that we provide as many opportunities to get them screened and resources directed to where it’s mostly (sic) needed.”
Mohamed said she chose SHB to help lead at the testing sites, because when the board partnered with Swedish Medical Center to bring mobile testing down to Tukwila, the testing site saw a substantial one-day turnout. The two upcoming #IDidMyPart sites will be located in Renton and Federal Way, which both have large populations of color. The sites are meant to attract close to the same amount of people as did the mobile site in Tukwila.
“We’ll also [provide] translation services, materials will be translated. We are trying to specifically target our Black and brown community in a thoughtful way,” Mohamed said. “We see the data of COVID[-19], and where it’s impacting — it’s heavily on our community, and so we need to make sure there are efforts happening that are for community by community.”
The sites will also be distributing household necessities that are in short supply right now, as well as educational and community business aids: boxes of diapers, toiletries, paper towels, hand sanitizers, personal protective equipment, gift cards, educational supplies — the list goes on, Hamdi said, but the decision to give out these items in care packages was an intentional one. She said that Knowles-Lawson launched the initiative with the parallel consideration that underserved communities not only lack access to testing but also often lack adequate access to basic supplies.
Knowles-Lawson said in her own emailed statement that even as the community is fighting for social justice, it must keep in mind there is a pandemic that is “killing people at an alarming rate.”
“We are dealing with two diseases that are disproportionately ravaging the Black community — COVID-19 and racism. We have to do all we can to combat both. Testing is important to know our status, to keep safe and to prevent spreading this horrible disease to our loved ones,” Knowles-Lawson said.
While Mohamed’s primary goal with the initiative is to ensure that her community has access to testing to protect their health, she echoed Knowles-Lawson in that she recognizes that the novel coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only crisis the community is facing.
“We are fighting two pandemics in America: one that we have been dealing with for the last three months, and one that has been around for hundreds of years, which is racism,” Mohamed said. “For four hundred years, Black people have been struggling to survive and to be free of racism, discrimination, and police violence.”
Testing Site Information
Day 1: June 13, 2020 at HealthPoint 955 Powell Ave SW Renton, WA 98057, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Day 2: June 14, 2020 at SeaMar 31405 18th Ave S, Federal Way, WA 98003, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Testing is free. Sites accept walk-ups and drive-throughs. No insurance is required. You will only be asked for your name, date of birth, and phone number for a results follow-up. You will not be asked for your documentation status. Those who may require transportation assistance may reach out to King County organizers here. There will be a cutoff time for testing.
Featured Image: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Tina Knowles-Lawson assist in Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston, Texas, in 2017. (Photo: Parkwood Entertainment)