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Seattle Mayor announces free, citywide COVID-19 testing

Mayor Jenny Durkan on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (screenshot)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday that the city of Seattle will offer free COVID-19 testing.

“Testing is a key to providing a return to a sense of normalcy,” Durkan said.

She expects, with University of Washington Medicine as a partner, that they will be able to increase testing by about 1,600 people per day. Testing is expected to begin on Friday, June 5.

There are two sites, one in North Seattle and one in South Seattle. The COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites, which are former vehicle emission testing sites, are located at:

12040 Aurora Ave. N Map

3820 6th Ave. S. Map

Testing hours are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Visit seattle.gov/covid19 to register. Clients will not be charged and will not receive a bill.

Durkan said these are just the first two sites. She hopes they can add at least one more site in South Park or West Seattle. They are also exploring mobile options for people who are protesting downtown.

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins says with current testing supplies, they’ll be able to make it at least 45 days if they’re testing 1,600 people every day. Obtaining testing supplies has been a challenge throughout the state’s COVID-19 response, which Gov. Inslee spoke about Thursday.

Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman also announced new advice Thursday, encouraging anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild, to get tested.

“Now we’re urging everyone who has symptoms to get tested, not just high-risk groups,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County. “… Testing is important for young and old, we are seeing illnesses in all age groups.”

Hayes says the goal in King County is to test 5,000 people per day. Currently, they’re testing about 2,000 people per day, on average.

The University of Washington does 2,000-2,500 tests per day now, but could do three times that many with the analytical capacity and instrumentation available.

“It’s a project like this and partnership like this that actualizes that capacity because it’s more theoretical capacity until we have a partnership with the city, and we have sites where these can be collected, and we have the Seattle Fire individuals who can help us collect those,” said Dr. Geoffrey Baird, acting chair of Laboratory Medicine at UW Medicine. “Until a swab goes in a nose and gets sent back to us, there’s no capacity, … we’re not doing that testing. But when we have projects like this that can actually facilitate the start to finish of the entire testing cycle, that’s what actually ends up allowing us to get as many people [tested] as we can.”

UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Durkan signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize the partnership.

“The University of Washington is not only a public state university, we’re an integral part of the Seattle community,” Cauce said. “… This partnership is a great example of how we can amplify our impact through cooperation and collaboration.”

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