In the Last Two Months, the City of Seattle has Administered More Than 128,000 Tests
City of Seattle Sites Currently Providing More Than 15% of Tests Statewide
Seattle (August 20, 2020) – While visiting the Rainier Beach High School free citywide testing site, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the expansion of City of Seattle testing at the Chief Sealth High School Athletic Complex, in the Westwood neighborhood of West Seattle. With the addition of this new walk-up testing facility, the City expects to administer approximately 4,000 tests daily and more than 75,000 tests monthly across all four sites.
While the City continues to urge anyone with symptoms to get tested, the West Seattle Bridge closure has presented a significant challenge for residents on the peninsula. The Chief Sealth location is key to advancing testing equity for the community and City.
“We continue to be in the middle of a pandemic – the most significant public health emergency in generations. In our new normal, we have to practice physical distancing, minimize social gatherings, wear face coverings, and repeatedly wash our hands - our actions as individuals and as a community will literally save lives,” said Mayor Durkan. “Seattle and our Seattle Fire Department have pioneered free and accessible testing. With today’s announcement, we are providing easier access to West Seattle residents while expanding testing capacity for the entire City, an essential step towards containing COVID-19 in our community.”
“We were successful beating back coronavirus in the spring and we can do it again. With the closure of the West Seattle Bridge making it harder to access testing, this additional testing capacity is crucial. Free, language-accessible testing to District 1 will make a real difference. If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, or have been in contact with someone with COVID, please seek testing,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, (District 1, West Seattle/South ParkPark)
“The need to reach more of the city’s Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, many of whom who call the South End home, has never been more important,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle). “The work we do today for people in South Seattle who are currently experiencing the City’s highest rates of positive tests, and particularly for Black and Latinx communities, can reverse this trend and make a monumental difference in the lives of our people of color in District 2.”
Since testing began on June 5, the City of Seattle has administered more than 128,000 tests. In just under two weeks, the Rainier Beach site has conducted nearly 6,000. The City of Seattle testing sites continue to yield a high percentage of the overall tests statewide, accounting for more than 15 percent since June. With these sites, the City of Seattle has nine of the ten highest per capita testing areas in King County.
Testing is free at the City of Seattle sites, and clients are not billed regardless of health insurance status. For those with insurance, UW Medicine will handle the billing of Medicaid, Medicare, or individuals’ private insurance. Under Washington state law, insurance companies cannot charge co-pays for COVID-19 testing. For uninsured clients, UW Medicine will seek reimbursement directly from the federal, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Relief Fund for the cost of the test.
Clients can, and should, register online to keep wait times to 10 minutes or less. Registration for the West Seattle location will be available on Wednesday, August 26, and testing will begin Friday, August 28. Individuals can sign up to be tested five days of the week. Hours across all sites are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Translation services are offered at all Citywide testing sites and can be requested during the registration process. Individuals should first seek to access testing through their primary care physician.
Public Health – Seattle & King County hosts several testing sites across the County, including Seattle, that are accessible without a registration request or requirement. Visit Public Health – Seattle King County’s website or call 206-477-3977 for more information.
“It is extremely important for the community to be able to access testing at the first signs of symptoms to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to friends, family, and the community. While most people can, and should, access testing through their regular health care provider, community sites are important for those who may not have that option. I am grateful to the City of Seattle for the partnership to expand testing,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
“This new testing site in West Seattle is another important step to increasing access across our community. The testing sites are tremendous examples of the strong partnerships between the healthcare community, cities, neighborhoods, and partners such as the Seattle Fire Department working together. Now, as a community, we all need to do our part to bring transmission down. The key is to keep your household’s social circle small. Limiting how many people we socialize with gives COVID-19 fewer chances to spread. Short gatherings are safer than long ones. Outdoor gatherings are generally safer than indoors because of the breeze and open air. Wear your face covering as much as possible, especially when less than six feet apart.”
The Seattle Fire Department quickly assumed a new role to better care for communities during the pandemic. Seattle Fire personnel continue leading testing efforts by administering tests at the Citywide sites. In the early days of the crisis new pilot programs including first responders testing, and Mobile Assessment Teams to test in long-term care facilities, provided the opportunity to develop expertise in administering tests.
“This pandemic has brought many challenges, including the ability to conduct widespread community testing that is so important to stopping the spread of this disease,” said Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “The Seattle Fire Department is committed to the overall well-being of our community, and I am proud of the firefighters and paramedics for taking on this new role of COVID-19 testing.”
King County announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 nearly six months ago. Absent federal leadership, Mayor Durkan, and the City of Seattle have enacted measures to protect vulnerable households from the negative impacts of COVID-19. Mayor Durkan has lobbied for and anticipates spending more than $230 million in City, state and federal funding to support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, workers, emergency response, and our most vulnerable including:
Announce make full use of the Defense Production Act to produce the testing supply needed to protect communities;
Launching free Citywide testing sites at locations in north and south Seattle; Establishing an outreach, education and enforcement effort to help businesses maintain compliance with public health mandates;
Creating and deploying Mobile Assessment Teams to test our most vulnerable in senior and long-term care establishments at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis;
Initiating the first-in-the-nation testing site for first responders conducted by first responders; Creating a PPE collection program that accumulated more than one million items that were distributed to first responders and frontline essential workers throughout the region;
Launching the “Seattle Protects” marketplace to connect local manufacturers and businesses with those in need of cloth face coverings;
Announcing investments for Mayor’s plan to create 600 permanent homes in record time to support neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness;
Investing $7 million in CARES Act funding towards food access programs for older adults and people experiencing homelessness and $4 million in CARES Act funds toward rental assistance programs;
Launching the “Stay Healthy Streets” pilot program as an effective option for travel to essential services;
Deferring utility payments for customers impacted by COVID-19;
Implementing a temporary moratorium on residential, small business, and nonprofit evictions to provide relief for working people financially impacted by COVID-19;
Creating temporary restaurant loading zones to facilitate curbside pickup at restaurants; Announcing a small business relief package that included deferred business taxes and a $2.5 million stabilization fund;
Creating a new Arts Recovery Package to provide immediate financial relief to artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19;
Providing 6,250 Seattle families and 1,800 workers with $800 in grocery vouchers; Providing rent relief to tenants of City-owned facilities;
Opening emergency child care classrooms to help hundreds of kids of essential workers; Partnering with United Way of King County and King County to invest $5 million in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes; and
Launching the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map to help residents find small businesses open for takeout and delivery in their neighborhood.
The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.