by Amina Ibrahim
This week, Somali Health Board (SHB) is hosting their eighth-annual health fair. This year’s health fair will continue through next week expanding from the usual one-day event in past years.
Starting on August 12, the health fair will provide walk-up COVID-19 testing sites in three South Seattle neighborhoods: New Holly, Highpoint, and Yesler. SHB is partnering with Seattle Housing Authority, Neighborhood House, and Neighborcare Health, which is providing the COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Ahmed Ali, executive director of SHB, said that testing will be available to all community members who are either symptomatic or have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.
“The definition of who is exposed is very murky, a lot of times I say anyone who is working, let’s say front-end service [such as] working at grocery stores … they might not feel like they are exposed, but oftentimes I encourage them to get tested because you don’t know who you’ve been in contact with,” said Dr. Ali. “I think the only way to fight COVID collectively as communities and through the health system is not just to look for people who are sick but to identify who is asymptomatic so they don’t expose other people without being unaware.”
Testing will be available free of charge, Dr. Ali says, and no one will be turned away due to lack of insurance or immigration status.
An article recently published by the Seattle Times found that the highest percentage of COVID-19 positivity in King Country is in South King County. Dr. Ali acknowledges these disparities and says this is why we need more community-based testing.
“I think bringing enough testing sites, and making sure that folks have access to these resources that we are distributing to help prevent further exposure, is what is going to drive down coronavirus in our county,” Dr. Ali said. “When families feel sick or when they feel like they need to be tested, they are more likely to show up to their own neighborhood, rather than driving to North Seattle or downtown Seattle to get tested. So the likelihood of more people getting tested significantly increases and therefore the likelihood of reducing the spread of the current disease itself will also be reduced.”
SHB hopes to test 200–250 people by the end of the health fair week and give care packages to hundreds of individuals and families.
In addition to COVID-19 testing sites, the health fair will include care pack distribution. Care packages will include hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, feminie hygiene products, and diapers. The health fair, which has been SHB’s largest community event in recent years, is now serving the community in ways they never imagined they would before.
August 12–13 (8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.) — High Point
August 14,17 (8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.) — New Holly
August 27–28 (8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.) — Yesler
Amina Ibrahim is a journalist and activist with a passion for reporting about underrepresented communities and her South Seattle neighborhood. She has previously done audio work that has aired on KUOW.
Featured image: 2019 Somali Health Fair, by Mohamed Shidane.