Free coronavirus testing for anyone — whether or not you have symptoms — is arriving this weekend in Sitka and some other communities served by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.
KCAW’s Robert Woolsey spoke with SEARHC’s Maegan Bosak about how to get a free test, and what to expect.
KCAW – So what’s it going to look like starting Saturday in Sitka? Where are the tests happening? Say I’m an average Sitkan and I want to go get tested — what do I do?
Bosak – The testing will happen at the alternate testing site which is at Mountainside Family Clinic. You can drive up, bike up, walk up. There’s a dedicated line where you’ll be greeted by a staff member who will come out and ask a few demographic questions specific to putting the test order in the system. After that, you’ll continue down the line and receive your self-swab kit which you’ll perform right there on site, walk a little bit farther down and give that to the next attendant who will secure it, and put it in the batch for processing and send off to the lab.
KCAW – Okay, so this is something we’re going to do ourselves — it’s not some nurse sticking the 5-inch swab up to the back of my brain, as has been made light of in the media quite a bit?
Bosak – No, this is the self-swab collection test. Again, there will be an attendant available if folks have questions. But, you’ll be given directions, then will step aside to do the self-swabbing, then return it to the attendant prior to leaving.
KCAW – And am I going to pay anything for this?
Bosak – You are not.
KCAW – Not even to get the test processed?
Bosak – No, this is a free service that is being provided in SEARHC communities, and we’re starting with Sitka, Wrangell, and Juneau this weekend.
KCAW – And when will I get my results?
Bosak – Typically, results are within 48-72 hours.
KCAW – Can I get the test more than once?
Bosak – You may.
KCAW – What if I am experiencing symptoms? Should I go to the free test, or should I get a hold of my doctor and somehow get sent to the front of the line? What would you suggest, if I’m not feeling well?
Bosak – If you’re not feeling well, I would certainly reach out to your medical provider. Or you can call the COVID Hotline to be screened. That number is 966-8799. But testing is also available during the week by referral for folks that are showcasing symptoms. So that is still available.
KCAW – And is the test that we’re getting the same thing that all SEARHC staff are getting every couple of weeks? I’ve heard that SEARHC is doing a lot of testing of its own employees — is this the same sort of thing, or is this something that’s more targeted for public use?
Bosak – Many SEARHC employees are also doing the same self-swab nasal collection testing. So, very similar.
Free coronavirus testing for all in Sitka begins this Saturday and Sunday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. at the drive-thru site next to Mountainside Family Clinic by Moller Field. Testing will be available weekends through December, and should be available in all SEARHC communities by the end of the month. If you have questions about testing — or if you haven’t received your results within 72 hours, you can call the COVID Hotline at 966-8799.