The city of Seattle is opening a third free COVID-19 testing site, this one at Rainier Beach High School, with plans for a fourth somewhere in Southwest Seattle.
The site opens Aug. 7 and will operate 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Unlike the city’s drive-thru coronavirus testing sites at former emissions testing facilities in North Seattle and Sodo, it will accept walk-ups.
The aim of the two new locations is to reach more of the city’s Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, many of whom call the South End home, Mayor Jenny Durkan said during a news conference Friday.
“Sadly, for our communities of color, and particularly for Black and Latinx communities, this crisis has disproportionally hit them,” she said.
South Seattle has the city’s highest rates of positive tests, according to data from Public Health – Seattle & King County. The figures are even starker across city lines, in South King County areas such as SeaTac, Tukwila and south Auburn.
“Higher positivity means a larger proportion of the people tested are ill and less severe cases are not being tested. This can be because testing capacity is not adequate to test people with less severe symptoms, or people with less severe symptoms don’t seek testing,” Sharon Bogan, of the county health department, told The Seattle Times recently. A higher percentage of positive tests can also mean simply that there is a higher level of the virus in a community.
At the same time, more tests per capita are being done in less-diverse central Seattle than anywhere else in King County. In the downtown neighborhoods, residents have been tested at a rate of more than 18,000 per 100,000 people. Capitol Hill/Eastlake is very close behind.
The Rainier Beach site, at 8815 Seward Park Ave. S., will be able to perform about 800 tests a day, with the Seattle Fire Department collecting the specimens, as they do at the city’s other sites.
UW Medicine has also been offering tests at Rainier Beach High School, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. With a capacity of about 100 tests a day, long lines often form at the free, no-appointment, drive-up and walk-up location.
A fourth city-run testing site in Southwest Seattle is in the works and could be announced in the next couple of weeks, Durkan said without giving an exact location.
The Sodo location, at 3820 Sixth Ave. S., and the North Seattle location, at 12040 Aurora Ave. N., opened in early June and are doing about 2,000 tests a day, Durkan said.
To find a testing site near you, use our interactive tool at st.news/coronavirus-testing or text COVIDTEST to 1-855-212-2411.
Seattle Times FYI Guy columnist Gene Balk contributed to this report.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct days on which the UW Medicine Mobile Clinic performs tests at Rainier Beach High School — Wednesdays and Saturdays.