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City of Seattle, UW Medicine announce free citywide COVID-19 testing

A drive through COVID-19 test (KOMO Photo){p}{/p}
A drive through COVID-19 test (KOMO Photo)

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SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday a partnership with UW Medicine to provide free citywide COVID-19 testing in Seattle.

The announcement came after King County applied for a modified phase one as part of Gov. Inslee’s Safe State Washington plan.

The joint effort is expected to increase testing capacity by more than 1,600 tests a day.

Earlier this week, Mayor Durkan signed an executive order to lease two former emissions testing sites for COVID-19 testing. One facility is in north Seattle at 12040 Aurora Ave North and the second facility is in south Seattle at 3820 6th Ave South. Both facilities will be open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"Testing for COVID-19 is more widely available across King County, and everyone with COVID-19 symptoms - even if not severe - and people who've had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should be tested as soon as possible,” said King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

“Early testing is important whether you are young or old to help prevent spread of the virus in households and the community. Please check with your healthcare provider right away if you develop a new cough, difficulty breathing or other symptoms of COVID-19. Other symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and sore throat.," Duchin said.

These sites are designed for drive-up testing only and are not ADA complaint for pedestrians. For walk-up testing options visit the Seattle King County’s website. The city asks that clients pre-register for appointments online. Seattle Fire Department says if you pre-register for a test the procedure shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

The north Seattle testing site will open on Friday and the SODO site opens on Monday.

Clients who use these facilities will not be charged for testing and will not receive a bill, regardless of health insurance status. UW Medicine says they will handle billing for individuals with private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

Under Washington law, insurance companies cannot charge co-pays for COVID-19 testing.

According to a release from the mayor's office, testing results can be accessed online. The county will contact those who test positive and give them information on the next steps including a referral to Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Public Health is working in partnership with the State Department of Health to operate a contact tracing program to help prevent positive cases from spreading the virus.

As many cities in the county work towards reopening, widespread testing can help reduce the spread of the virus among households, workplaces, and communities.

“To rebuild our economy safely we need more testing capacity, and those with even mild symptoms or who have reason to believe they have been exposed need to get tested. This is an essential step in effective containment of the virus without strict stay-at-home requirements. That's why we are working with healthcare providers across King County to create more testing options for anyone who may not have easy access, particularly in communities that have higher rates of infection," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

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On Thursday, Gov. Inslee discussed the state’s approach to COVID-19 testing. He urged that anyone with symptoms, no matter how mild, gets tested .

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