by Carolyn Bick
Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) will be opening two new, free, drive-up novel coronavirus testing sites in Auburn and Renton, Public Health Director Patty Hayes announced at a briefing on Aug. 31. The new sites will bring the county’s overall testing capacity up by about 1,500 tests per day, Hayes said.
The Auburn testing site will be open starting tomorrow, Sept. 1, from 9:30 a.m.–4 :30 p.m. The Renton testing site will be open starting Sept. 8 from 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Both sites will be open Monday–Saturday, and will be free. Neither insurance cards nor driver’s licenses are required, but people who want or need to get a test are encouraged to bring them.
Hayes said that the new sites are purposefully placed in South King County, which continues to show higher rates of infection than other areas of the city, and whose residents — mainly people of color — continue to suffer disproportionately worse outcomes from the virus than white people, which Hayes said exacerbates already existing health disparities. She said that these sites are meant to be more easily accessible for people who may not otherwise be able to get tested, due to other barriers to testing, such as time constraints.
In response to the Emerald’s question about whether this meant that PHSKC would be looking to create longer-term medical infrastructure in South King County in partnership with South King County city governments, Hayes said that “the network of community health centers here who receive federal funding and … funding locally to address some of this gap is constantly looking at the access point.”
Before the pandemic, Hayes said, “we had an incredibly low uninsured rate in King County,” but did not specify if that meant there was a low uninsured rate in South King County. She said that the economic fallout from the pandemic that has brought with it a loss of jobs has meant that the uninsured rate has once again climbed. She also said that PHSKC has been working with community partners to address the pandemic, but on the topic of long-term medical infrastructure said that “we will continue to look at how that infrastructure is placed, as well as where the needs are.” She did not commit to or specify what actions PHSKC would take to fortify South King County with more, and more easily accessible, medical infrastructure.
Hayes encouraged those who suspect they may have the virus to get tested. She said they and those who have tested positive for the virus should also isolate themselves, but said that PHSKC understands that not everyone can do this. As such, there are several PHSKC-run isolation and quarantine sites available for those who might live in congregate settings, for people experiencing homelessness, or for people who might face other barriers to self-isolation.
The county continues to fall short on testing. Hayes said that PHSKC is working with two local labs, UW Medicine and Atlas Genomics, to shorten the wait times for test results.
The free Auburn drive-up testing site will be located at 2701 C St SW, Auburn, WA, 98001. It will open on Sept. 1, and be open Monday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Neither an insurance card nor a driver’s license is required. Register online here.
The free Renton drive-up testing site will be located at 805 SW 10th Ave., Renton, 98057. It will open on Sept. 8, and be open Monday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Neither an insurance card nor a driver’s license is required. Register online here starting Sept. 5.
More information about these two sites can be found here.
Featured image: Health care workers prepare to test people at a walk-up testing site at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Washington, on Aug. 20, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)