The Bainbridge Island City Council unanimously approved a proposal for a COVID-19 community-based testing site to be set up at City Hall four days a week this fall and winter.
Emergency Management coordinator Anne LeSage said feedback from community partners and residents revealed that COVID testing is still not widely available on the island unless a person is symptomatic.
“Essentially, what we continue to hear is that it is difficult to get tested if you are asymptomatic,” she said. “Even if you are a close contact, you need to get tested in order to return to work or to travel.”
There are six clinics offering coronavirus testing on Bainbridge, but a patient must have symptoms.
The testing site would be open to everyone at no cost. The lab will bill insurance and cover fees for individuals without coverage, LeSage said.
The testing site is expected to begin Nov. 2 and would be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturdays. LeSage said the days and hours can be adjusted, depending on demand. The location would be outside City Hall on the Town Square Lawn where the farmer’s market is typically held during good-weather season.
City documents state that access to local testing is a critical component to supporting the reopening of schools and businesses, conforms with Centers for Disease Control guidelines and is in alignment with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Plan.
“We’ve specifically looked at if there were to be an outbreak in the schools, how can they quickly get everyone tested?” LaSage said. “That’s something we want to make sure we’re addressing. If it were to be a classroom, we would be able to test a classroom in an afternoon. If it were more than that, we would have to expand our hours. We could add an extra day, we could sort of respond on-demand based on the needs of the school district. We certainly have flexibility in that regard.”
The request was for the council to authorize up to $50,000 from the general fund to support testing. Staff estimates an initial $10,000 start-up cost to purchase supplies and an additional $6,000 a month to continue testing. Supplies will consist of PPE, administrative supplies, testing materials, and IT equipment and support.
“The main expenditure for this is the testing materials themselves as well as some ongoing IT software subscriptions,” LeSage said.
The next steps before the site opens include finalizing the plan, purchasing the equipment and supplies, scheduling and training for volunteers and messaging to the community.
Staffing of the COVID-19 testing site will include:
- Site Administration – Emergency Management Coordinator and COVID-19 Safety Officer
- On-site traffic control & registration – Emergency Management Volunteers
- On-site testing oversight – Medical Reserve Corps
- Call Center Support – Emergency Management Volunteers
- Lab Operations – UW Medicine