City of Seattle to open additional citywide COVID-19 testing sites in South Seattle
information from the City of Seattle
Building on the June launch of Citywide testing that has thus far administered more the 80,000 COVID-19 tests, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the third Citywide testing site – a walk-up location at Rainier Beach High School in south Seattle. Rainier Beach has one of the highest density BIPOC communities in Seattle, and Citywide testing will add more days of the week, hours of the day, and increase capacity ten-fold by up to 4,000 tests per week. Mayor Durkan also announced a fourth site is currently under planning for the Southwest Seattle community.
On June 4, Mayor Durkan announced a partnership implementing free citywide testing at two drive-up locations in north and south Seattle, with plans to open a third location. To date, the City has administrated well over 2,000 tests per day and in less than two months more than 80,000 in total, accounting for 15 percent of tests conducted statewide since June. With these sites, the City of Seattle has nine of the ten highest per capita testing areas in King County.
“Seattle is leading the nation in pioneering innovative testing strategies and free citywide testing of our most vulnerable individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The combination of testing and our actions is saving lives, but we also must face the reality that we will be dealing with this pandemic until at least next year,” said Mayor Durkan. “It is up to each of us make to protect ourselves, families, neighbors, coworkers and community, so we need to mask up, physical distance, wash your hands, and get tested when experiencing symptoms or exposed to people with COVID illness.”
The Rainier Beach site is currently staffed by the UW Mobile Clinic on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. but the demand has consistently outpaced their capacity. Furthermore, with potential funding gaps, they are scheduled to leave the site in early August.
Nearly 40 percent of Rainier Beach households are comprised of Black and Latinx families which are the most acutely impacted by COVID-19 – representing the highest COVID-19 infection and mortality rates. Recognizing this, the City moved quickly to ensure there would not be a gap in service and to increase capacity. City of Seattle citywide testing will operate five days per week, Mondays and Wednesdays – Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Officials believe up to 800 tests can be administered per day – a 10-fold increase of up to 4,000 tests per week.
“Along with critical community actions like physical distancing and wearing a facial covering, testing is one key to fighting COVID-19, and that’s why expanding access in areas such as south Seattle is so important,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “If you know you’ve been exposed to the virus or if you have symptoms, please stay home and away from others – except to go to your testing appointment. By self-quarantining, you’re protecting family and friends and helping us all succeed at re-opening King County.”
Like the Aurora and SoDo drive-up locations, clients at the walk-up Rainier Beach testing site will not be charged and will not receive a bill, regardless of health insurance status. For insured clients, UW Medicine will handle the billing of an individuals’ private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. Under Washington law, insurance companies cannot charge co-pays for COVID-19 testing. For uninsured clients, UW Medicine will seek reimbursement directly from the federal, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Relief Fund for the cost of the test. We do ask that clients register online to keep wait times to 10 minutes or less.
Seattle Fire Department personnel have led the City’s testing efforts throughout the pandemic piloting a successful testing model for first responders, that was expanded to testing City, shelter provider, and health care workers, and the Mobile Assessment Teams that went into long-term care facilities all over the city, and also the 80,000 tests administered at the Citywide sites.
“Seattle firefighters have taken on many new roles in the effort to control the spread of COVID-19, and we are proud to help expand community testing to areas of the city most in need,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “Standing up and staffing additional sites will go a long way towards tracking the spread of the disease in Seattle, and that’s essential in our efforts to support public health and our community’s eventual reopening.”
In recent weeks, Governor Inslee has rolled back his Safe Start Washington plan as COVID-19 cases have increased substantially. In King County, positive cases increased four-fold representing the highest seven-day average of case counts since April, prior to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
While most people can, and should, access testing through their regular health care provider, Public Health – Seattle & King County hosts several testing sites throughout the City and County, without a registration request or requirement. Visit Public Health – Seattle King County’s website or call 206-477-3977 for more information.
Testing along with robust contact tracing efforts is widely acknowledged as one of the most important ways to protect communities from the spread of COVID-19. Mayor Durkan continues to fiercely advocate for the federal government to rapidly increase testing supplies including testing reagents, an important component for labs to process the samples being taken and return results in a timely manner.
Nearly six months ago, King County announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the nation. Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle quickly enacted measures to ensure households that would most feel the negative impact of COVID-19 were protected from the most significant implications. As the first major US city to deal with the impact of COVID-19 Mayor Durkan has lobbied for and anticipates spending more than $230 million in City, state and federal funding to support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, workers, emergency response, and our most vulnerable including:
- Launching free Citywide testing sites at locations in north and south Seattle;
- Establishing an outreach, education and enforcement effort to help businesses maintain compliance with public health mandates;
- Creating and deploying Mobile Assessment Teams to test our most vulnerable in senior and long-term care establishments at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis;
- Initiating the first-in-the-nation testing site for first responders conducted by first responders;
- Creating a PPE collection program that accumulated more than one million items that were distributed to first responders and frontline essential workers throughout the region;
- Launching the “Seattle Protects” marketplace to connect local manufacturers and businesses with those in need of cloth face coverings;
- Providing over 45,000 face covering to community-organizations for Seattle’s most vulnerable communities:
- Announcing the Mayor’s plan to create 500 permanent homes to support neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness;
- Investing $7 million in CARES Act funding towards food access programs for older adults and people experiencing homelessness and $4 million in CARES Act funds toward rental assistance programs;
- Launching the “Stay Healthy Streets” pilot program as an effective option for travel to essential services;
- Deferring utility payments for customers impacted by COVID-19;
- Implementing a temporary moratorium on residential, small business, and nonprofit evictions to provide relief for working people financially impacted by COVID-19;
- Creating temporary restaurant loading zones to facilitate curbside pickup at restaurants;
- Announcing a small business relief package that included deferred business taxes and a $2.5 million stabilization fund;
- Creating a new Arts Recovery Package to provide immediate financial relief to artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19;
- Providing 250 Seattle families and 1,800 workers with $800 in grocery vouchers;
- Providing rent relief to tenants of City-owned facilities;
- Opening emergency child care classrooms to help hundreds of kids of essential workers;
- Partnering with United Way of King County and King County to invest $5 million in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes; and
- Launching the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map to help residents find small businesses open for takeout and delivery in their neighborhood.
The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.