Mass testing sites are coming to Spokane. But opening dates are up in the air

SPOKANE, Wash. — Coronavirus cases continue to rise, which means more people need tests. 

Tests are also necessary for unvaccinated people who wish to go to concerts, eat out at some restaurants, or get cleared to go back to work. 

Spokane is set to get two mass testing sites, but they may not come as quickly as needed. 

Staffing shortages are causing delays in healthcare across the board. The Spokane Regional Health District reached out to the state to get the mass testing sites, but even they are strapped on resources. 

That is why a private company will run the new testing sites. Discovery Health is already operating testing locations in Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue. 

The state Department of Health contracted them to set up sites, which will be at the Community Colleges of Spokane. The health district says the schools are centrally located and have public transit options. 

Both sites will offer drive-thru testing and help fill a need local providers could no longer keep up with. 

“Our providers, whether you’re talking about public health or healthcare, we are stretched to a point that is highly complicated right now,” said Interim Health Officer Dr. Frank Velazquez. “This certainly will alleviate that and will prevent people from needing to go to a health care facility for their testing.” 

This complicated situation will make opening the sites a bit of a challenge. 

Velazquez said they are working to find staffing and get the sites going in the next few weeks. He is also optimistic that this could create short-term employment opportunities in the community. 

Velazquez added that at-home test options can be useful for people struggling to get an appointment. 

CHAS Health has kits for purchase online. People who meet certain criteria for exposure and symptoms can also qualify for a free test. 

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READ: Two mass COVID-19 testing sites could be coming to Spokane