Two new self-administered, oral coronavirus testing sites will open to Seattleites in Northgate and the Central District this weekend, adding more than 1,000 tests to the city’s daily capacity, city officials announced Friday.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins confirmed the new sites during a news conference last month.
The testing kiosks — which allow free oral swab tests — will be officially open Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and will generally operate Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., though the hours may change depending on demand, according to a statement from the city.
One kiosk will be in the Northgate neighborhood at the south end of the Northgate Community Center (10510 Fifth Ave. N.E.), and the other will sit east of the Garfield Community Center (2323 E. Cherry St.) in the Central District, the statement said.
Registration for testing appointments starts online Friday evening.
“As a city, we must remain vigilant of this deadly virus to protect our family, friends, and community from the spread of COVID-19,” Durkan said in the statement. “Testing is a key way that we can track the virus and ultimately keep communities safe.”
Residents will be able walk or drive up to either site, receive a swab package from a worker inside the kiosk, swab their own mouths, then return the swab to the worker in a plastic bag. Results are to be returned within 48 hours.
The kiosks are a result of a recent partnership with Curative, a company founded in January with the initial goal of developing a test for sepsis. As the pandemic worsened, it pivoted to prioritize coronavirus testing through a “self-collected, oral fluid swab,” said Curative spokesperson Miranda Gottlieb during last month’s news conference.
Curative has completed more than 7 million tests across 8,000 test sites in the United States. The company began widespread testing in March, and during the summer started deploying mobile testing kiosks throughout the country, reaching about 500 people per day at each site, Gottlieb said.
While some doctor’s offices or commercial vendors may be offering oral tests, these two sites are the first to offer self-administered, oral swab testing to the community in Seattle, Curative and city spokespeople said Friday.
A Curative staff member will be available at each of the new kiosks to help people through the testing process.
Those who use the kiosk won’t be charged, regardless of insurance status. For uninsured patients, Curative will request reimbursement from state and federal resources, the statement said.
The new sites come at a critical moment for the city, as the current testing locations have been stretched beyond capacity. In the weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, those hoping to get tested waited in line for up to 90 minutes at some locations, a city official said.
Since June, when Seattle opened its first two testing sites, the city has administered more than 450,000 coronavirus tests at its Aurora Avenue, Sodo, Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites, the statement said. The two new kiosks will allow the city to “easily surpass” 7,000 tests daily.
“The COVID testing kiosks at Northgate, a transit hub in North Seattle, are an example of the City of Seattle’s commitment to accessible testing for those who depend on transit or have mobility challenges,” Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez, who represents North Seattle, said in the statement.
“Accessibility should never come between you and your health,” she said. “Our city continues to be a leader in this effort in partnership with our incredible medical community — such as the first responders and frontline workers at Northwest Hospital, UW Medicine, and Virginia Mason.”