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COVID-19

News >  Spokane

Fairgrounds COVID-19 screening site will close next week as providers open several locations for testing

UPDATED: Fri., April 24, 2020

Medical personnel wearing protective equipment screen people referred by doctors for COVID-19 testing, Friday, March 20, 2020, at a drive-thru testing station set up in the parking lot at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. The testing center will be closed May 1 as health care providers expand testing sites across the county. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Medical personnel wearing protective equipment screen people referred by doctors for COVID-19 testing, Friday, March 20, 2020, at a drive-thru testing station set up in the parking lot at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. The testing center will be closed May 1 as health care providers expand testing sites across the county. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Screening and testing for COVID-19 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center will close on May 1, with Providence Health Care, MultiCare, Kaiser Permanente and CHAS opening testing sites at various locations for their patients throughout the Spokane area.

The fairgrounds drive-up screening and testing was a collaborative effort of local providers and the Spokane Regional Health District. It openedMarch 17. In anticipation of state leaders relaxing some mitigation strategies and businesses about to reopen in a phased approach, more testing efforts will be expanded countywide. Spokane County residents will be asked to contact their health care provider for testing if they have symptoms and be directed to a clinic near them to be screened and potentially tested for COVID-19.

A map with testing site locations and hours will be posted to the Spokane Regional Health District’s website before the transition is finalized, and health care systems are offering sites in different areas of the Spokane metro area.

“To assure that testing and evaluation can come back safely for health care workers, we will begin a transition into improving access to COVID-19 screening and testing,” Susan Sjoberg, with the health district, said on Friday. “The fairgrounds has been a good solution but not to everyone in our county.”

Spokane County residents will still be asked to call their primary care provider if they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms and then be referred to one of their health care system’s testing sites. MultiCare will have two respiratory clinics in north and south Spokane as well as four Indigo Urgent Care sites. Providence has at least two designated respiratory clinics. CHAS will have 10 testing sites at its health centers, which will be available for walk-ups and testing those without insurance, said Jason Campbell, senior vice president of operations at CHAS.

“Anybody who wants a test and isn’t a CHAS patient can walk up,” Campbell said on Friday, noting that if possible patients should try to call ahead. “… We are not billing for COVID-related testing.”

When Washington prepares to phase in relaxing mitigation strategies in the coming weeks, health officials have said more testing is necessary in order to quickly identify people with the virus and their close contacts, so they are isolated and unable to infect others.

“We have to ensure that any individual with symptoms can get tested,” Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said Friday.

Sjoberg said that the idea behind decentralizing testing in the county is about having the ability to appropriately serve patients while also protecting health care workers.

Administrators from MultiCare, Providence and CHAS told reporters Friday that they all have capacity to screen and test community members.

Spokane County has 338 confirmed cases of COVID-19, after the county added 16 new cases Friday, a jump in what has been a fairly slow uptick in daily case numbers. Nine of those confirmed cases are associated with the outbreak at the Spokane Veterans Home.

At the Spokane Veterans Home, 13 staff members and 35 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Administrators there announced that they will transfer the residents who have tested positive to the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, where a COVID-19 unit has been created. Health officials said the VA staff are coordinating hospital transfers with local EMS ambulance services.

Eleven Spokane County residents are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in local hospitals.

Health care providers and health officials continue to plan an alternate care facility, should local hospitals surge with COVID-19 activity in the future. The isolation unit is still open for people with COVID-19 who cannot isolate at a home. It is located at the fairgrounds and is staffed by workers from CHAS and the Guardians Foundation at night.

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