Seattle will stop providing free coronavirus testing at facilities in West Seattle and Rainier Beach on March 31 as it seeks to increase distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at those sites, the city announced Wednesday.
Transitioning both sites to vaccination-only will allow each site to vaccinate 1,500 people a day, up from 1,000 a day currently, the city said.
At the same time, demand for testing at the two sites has been dropping, the city said. West Seattle is currently administering about 200 tests a day and Rainier Beach is administering about 100 tests a day, the city said.
City-run sites, staffed by Seattle Fire Department personnel, have administered more than 680,000 coronavirus tests since they began operating last summer. The Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites, combined, have done about 160,000 of those tests.
The city will continue to operate drive-thru testing sites on Aurora Avenue and in SoDo.
“With the decrease in those seeking testing, I’m confident transitioning our Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites to serve as full-time vaccination hubs is the right step,” Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said, in a prepared statement. “This move will allow us to increase the number of people SFD can vaccinate each day, as supply allows.”
Both the Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The city also operates a mass vaccination clinic at the Lumen Field Event Center. It is currently open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Appointments are required at all locations. Eligible people can sign up to be notified when appointments are available at Seattle.gov/vaccine.
Those currently eligible include: people 65 and older, educators and child care workers, people who are pregnant or disabled, and high-risk critical workers, including retail grocery workers, transit operators, farm workers and correctional officers.
On March 31, people 60 years and older will become eligible, as will restaurant workers and construction workers. All people age 16 and older will become eligible by May 1, at the latest, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said.