Health Report: COVID-19 testing outside Carlson Center

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 2:51 PM AKDT
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Since opening on Tuesday, June 30th, a free COVID-19 testing center outside the Carlson Center has performed 126 tests and given out 8 positive results.

Elizabeth Burton, Regional Nurse Manager with Fairbanks Regional Public Health Center (FRPHC), said the process for running through the test site takes about 5 minutes.

According to Burton, the testing site is working to increase its capacity to take clients through the process. “The first day we did 15 an hour, and then we did 21 an hour on Thursday, and we managed that,” she said.

Appointments are being made so as to minimize wait times between clients, but according to Burton the testing site has been able to accommodate a few people without appointments. Those individuals pull their vehicles off to the side and register on site.

“We have a very generous list of symptoms that would qualify you for an appointment,” Burton said. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, headache, achy joints, diarrhea, fatigue, and a “general feeling of unwellness,” according to Burton.

Upon arriving at the site, clients will run through three stations. In the first, Volunteers in Policing will check to make sure they have registered for testing. The second has a Fred Meyer pharmacist explaining the process of self-collecting a sample.

Then, in the third station the client receives the materials and, with coaching by a representative from FRPHC, collects the sample and turns it in.

At the end of each testing day, the samples taken are submitted to the state virology lab on the University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus. So far, results have generally been available within 24 hours.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 receive a call from the FRPHC, while those who test negative will receive their results in the mail.

“We need to do more testing. We need to understand the extent of the community spread that we’re starting to see here locally, and to create awareness of why it’s important to stay in if you’re not ill, why it’s important to wear a mask, to wear gloves in certain situations when you’re out in public, [and] to social distance,” Burton said.

Normal operating hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., although the center will be open on Wednesday, July 8th.

Appointments can be made by calling the FRPHC at (907) 452-1776.

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