COVID-19 and expanded testing options

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Snohomish Health District

Snohomish Health District

By Kari Bray / Snohomish Health District

High-risk Snohomish County residents with symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including those who work in healthcare, public safety or critical infrastructure, now have another option for free testing.

Testing is by appointment only. People who do not have symptoms or do not meet the criteria will not be eligible for testing appointments.

We know that there will still be more people who want to be tested than available staff, time and test kits allow. We hear and we share these frustrations. We want to stress that a rushed or haphazard testing plan will not serve our community, and could actually hinder the response to this pandemic and strain already limited resources. As we ramp up this new option, we need to prioritize testing so that we and our partners can run this effort smoothly and be better able to expand as more resources are available.

This community based drive-thru testing site is being coordinated by the Snohomish Health District and the Medical Reserve Corps, in partnership with the City of Everett, Everett Public Schools, CHC of Snohomish County, Everett Clinic, Providence Medical Group, Swedish Medical Group, Tulalip Tribes, and Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

The testing supplies and laboratory services are made possible by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The new drive-thru site is by appointment only.

A website has been set up at https://redcap.link/Snohomish-COVID-19 where people will be asked a series of screening questions and, if they meet testing criteria, will be given an appointment time and a testing identifier number. If there are multiple people who will be coming in the same vehicle to be tested, each of them needs to answer the questions and get an individual number. Instructions on how to register are available here.

You must have an appointment, a testing identifier number and photo ID ready when you arrive at the testing site. Results should be available 3-5 days after testing and people will be notified by phone call or text message.

Testing will be in the large parking lot near Everett Memorial Stadium at 3900 Broadway. Vehicles will enter going southbound on Broadway. People who are being tested will remain in their cars and there will not be testing inside any buildings at this location.

Appointments will be opened for one week at a time. For the week of March 23, we will be open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with appointments in 15-minute time slots. We initially expect to test 180-200 people each day, but hope to expand days and/or hours soon.

At the testing site, there will be security and a check-in point. This testing is by-appointment only because that is the best way to make sure we are keeping staff, the people being tested, and the public safe and healthy. It will also help us keep things running smoothly to maximize the number of tests we can complete each day.

Medical professionals are overseeing this testing.

The Health District has coordinated with the Snohomish County Medical Reserve Corps, the Everett Clinic, Providence Medical Group, Swedish Medical Group, CHC of Snohomish County, and the Tulalip Tribes to have medical staff onsite to oversee the testing process. Health District staff and volunteers will assist with staffing for the check-in point and any additional screening, and local law enforcement is coordinating with us on security.

This is not the only testing option.

We are not replacing or eliminating other testing avenues offered by many local healthcare providers. The goal is to supplement those options and help ease some of the pressure on the existing system. People still should contact their medical provider for guidance and assessment if they have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and/or shortness of breath. For medical emergencies, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you may have COVID-19.

Not everyone needs to be tested.

You may be eligible for testing if you are:

Experiencing symptoms (cough, fever of at least 100.4, sore throat and/or shortness of breath)

AND

Working in healthcare, public safety, or critical infrastructure like grocery stores, restaurants, shelters, gas stations, public utilities, child care, or correctional facilities OR

60 years of age or older OR

Someone with underlying medical conditions or a weakened immune system OR

Currently pregnant.

You do not need to be tested if:

You do not currently have symptoms. Even if you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you should not be tested if you are not symptomatic. A negative test of someone who does not have symptoms does not necessarily rule out an infection.

You have mild symptoms, are younger than 60, and are otherwise healthy. If this applies to you, please stay home, self-isolate and take care of yourself. Contact your medical provider by phone or online and notify them as soon as possible if symptoms worsen.

We’re not done.

Initially, appointments will be available through next week, but the goal is to add more slots for the following weeks once the site is up and running. We know that slots will likely fill up quickly. If you try to get an appointment online and the landing page states that testing is full, do not proceed. Check back later or monitor social media to see if additional dates and times have been released.

This is not the end of local efforts to ensure efficient and accessible testing for those who need it. A dedicated team with representatives from a number of agencies is working at the Snohomish County Emergency Coordination Center on key issues, including the drive-thru testing, personal protective equipment and other resources for our medical providers and first responders, and putting plans in place to make sure we are prepared to continue this response.

This is not a short-term effort. Now is the time we need people to come together and take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as support those around them.

If you are sick, stay home and away from others. Review the guidance outlined in our last blog post. Even if you are feeling well, stay home and limit close contacts outside of your household if you are able. Support the efforts local businesses are taking to ensure social distancing and keep operating – order take-out or delivery, shop online options for local retailers, and participate in video or online options for group activities like work-outs or lessons.

And when it comes to testing, pay attention to symptoms if you have them and understand who is considered high-risk of severe illness or whether you fit into another priority group. Again, the website for the online screening and to make an appointment is https://redcap.link/Snohomish-COVID-19. More information also is available at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.

The Public Health Essentials! blog highlights the work of the Snohomish Health District and shares health-related information and tips.

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