Two more days of low-barrier Covid-19 testing scheduled at Bellingham site

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Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) and the Whatcom County Health Department have scheduled two more days of low-barrier Covid-19 testing after testing about 800 people in the first two days of the pilot project.

The test site, in the parking lot at Civic Stadium in Bellingham, opened for two days last week, on July 10 and 11. It’s the first site in Whatcom County that tests people for free without an appointment or a referral from a healthcare provider.

It will be open again from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. To be tested, enter the Civic Field Stadium parking lot, at 1445 Puget Street, from Puget Street via Fraser Street. You will be instructed where to drive once you enter the testing site. Don’t exit your vehicle and follow instructions to ensure the safety of workers, volunteers and others seeking testing. Please be prepared to wait in line. The site doesn’t have public restrooms.

On July 10 and 11, waiting times at the site ranged from 30 minutes to three hours, said Amy Cloud, spokesperson for WUC. Six people tested positive at the site, and everyone got their results by Monday, July 13, she said.

People of all ages got tested, but people 18 to 29 made up the biggest percentage of those tested, at 28 percent. The number tested – about 400 people a day – is more people than were tested per day at medical providers throughout the county in the week before the site opened. From July 2 to 8, an average of 369 people were tested per day in Whatcom County, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health.

Cloud said the partners operating the testing site will debrief after the upcoming test days and “move forward with some sort of schedule,” after that.

“This is a large investment of our public resources, so the pilot allows us to assess the investment and take a thoughtful approach to a long-term, sustainable testing plan that includes not only this drive-through testing model, but testing offered through healthcare providers,” she said in an email.

To date, 692 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Whatcom County and 41 with the virus have died, according to data from the Whatcom County Health Department. The seven-day moving average of new cases, reported by Whatcom County Unified Command, was around five as of July 9. At the end of June, the seven-day average peaked at 14 per day, according to data from WUC.

As of July 13, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham had three patients with confirmed Covid-19 cases. That is the most Covid-19 patients the hospital has ever had at one time, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health. (Note: According to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, the number of patients cited by the state is incorrect; the hospital had 12 patients on one day in April.)

More information on the test site is available at whatcomcounty.us/covidtesting.

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