City partnering with UW for free COVID-19 drive-up testing

Late this afternoon, Mayor Jenny Durkan and UW President Ana Mari Cauce signed a partnership agreement to provide free COVID-19 testing at two drive-through locations in Seattle.

The Seattle Fire Department will staff the two sites and administer the tests, and UW Medicine will process the tests. They expect to be able to administer up to 1600 tests per day, in alignment with the requirements under the Governor’s phased plan for re-opening the state. SFD has been running drive-through testing sites for first responders in Seattle and more recently in other locations in King County.

The city is leasing two former emissions test locations: one in North Seattle at 12040 Aurora Avenue N., and one in SODO at 3820 6th Avenue S.  Mayor Durkan said that the city is working on adding more sites, with South Park and West Seattle the priorities. She also said that they are working on mobile testing capabilities that could potentially be deployed onsite where free speech demonstrations are underway, as local health officials worry that the demonstrations could become hotspots for COVID-19 transmission.

The testing is free of charge, though staff will be collecting insurance information from those who have it. UW Medicine will bill insurance providers, who will in turn be reimbursed from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Relief Fund. For the uninsured, UW Medicine will receive direct compensation from the same relief fund.

Officials are asking that anyone experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 to get tested as soon as possible, either through their healthcare provider or at one of the two sites. They are also requesting that people who wish to be tested pre-register in advance at The sites are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm. They expect that the test collection process should be about 10 minutes from beginning to end for those who have pre-registered, including filing out a form and having samples collected (from the back of the nose, by swab). Those tested will be given a QR code that can be used to obtain test results online. According to Dr. Geoffrey Baird of UW Medicine, most test results are available in under 24 hours.

Baird, SFD Chief Harold Skoggins, and Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health Seattle-King County, assured the press that the city has ample testing supplies to sustain the effort long-term, despite procurement challenges in the past months. Skoggins said that his department currently has enough testing supplies to last for the next 45 days at full capacity.

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