Busy first day for new COVID testing center at Yakima Valley College

YAKIMA — The new community COVID-19 testing site at Yakima Valley College in Yakima was busy from the start, with several people arriving an hour before it opened Monday morning.

Health care workers and volunteers performed 492 COVID-19 tests on Monday.

Site commander Michael Vachon wasn’t surprised at the turnout. As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge due to the highly transmissible delta variant, the need for free and easily accessible community testing is greater than ever. The Yakima Health District reported 140 new cases Saturday, 128 on Sunday and 139 Monday, with 61 people hospitalized.

The new testing site occupies three parking lots on the on the north side of the college. People park in one lot and walk up to the clinic. Staff use a third lot for parking and breaks.

More than 200 tests had already been completed around 11 a.m. About that time, Jayme Longoria of the University of Washington stepped away from the canopy where tests were taking place and updated Vachon on a generator at the site and the likely need for more staff. Longoria is a programs operations specialist and remote site manager for the university’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

“I’d say the majority of these are walk-ups. From what I’ve seen this morning, 20% are registered and the rest are walk-ups,” she said.

Free COVID-19 testing is open to anyone with symptoms, who has been exposed to COVID-19 or is concerned about exposure. Tests can be performed on infants as young as 3 months with results from one to three days.

Spanish-speaking staffers are available for translation, Vachon said. Workers won’t check immigration status. Testing is open to all, with or without identification or insurance. “If they have insurance we will bill their insurance, but there is no cost to them,” he said.

Along with a new location and approach, the new community testing site in Yakima features a different partnership involving the University of Washington, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Signal Health and the college.

“We did 402 tests on Friday. We probably could have kept on going. That’s probably our busiest day since February,” Vachon said. And the recent test positivity rate has been around 28% to 29%, the highest they’ve seen since winter, Vachon said.

Source: Wenatchee World