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News / Northwest

Free COVID-19, flu tests at new WA kiosks

By Vonnai Phair, The Seattle Times
Published: February 8, 2024, 7:51am

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health is launching kiosks across the state with free COVID-19 and flu tests and other health care supplies.

The initiative will help underserved populations, said state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah. Seventeen kiosks have been ordered so far by local jurisdictions and tribal nations, the department said this week.

“In unveiling these innovative kiosks, DOH is taking a significant step towards ensuring the well-being of our communities,” Shah said in an online news release.

Kiosks can dispense free health care tests and supplies 24/7 at the push of a button in locations like food banks, transit stations, churches, schools and libraries. Information on how local health jurisdictions and tribal nations can request kiosks is available at st.news/kiosks.

There are currently two operating kiosks, located in the Bethel School District’s Learning Center, in Parkland, and Spanaway’s United Methodist Church. A map of kiosks is available at testandgo.com/kiosk-locator.

DOH will bring kiosks to Thurston, Chelan, Douglas, Grays Harbor, Okanogan, Asotin, NE-Tri County, Yakima Health District, Skamania, Snohomish and Whatcom counties in the coming weeks, said DOH spokesperson John Doyle.

Each kiosk can hold about 700 tests, which DOH plans to fill at least half with COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, multiplex rapid antigen tests (which detect flu A and B and COVID-19) and self-swab PCR tests.

Kiosks can also include other health care supplies, such as naloxone, pregnancy tests, tests for sexually transmitted infections, fentanyl test strips and over-the-counter medications and products, which tribes and local health partners could add at their own cost.

If no additional health care products are added, kiosks will be filled with COVID-19 and flu tests.

Testing is a significant tool to control the spread of respiratory viruses, and it’s “part of our new normal,” said community testing supervisor Kristina Allen.

Although DOH’s respiratory illness data shows virus activity has decreased recently, influenza emergency department visits are still above epidemic levels.

The number of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients was higher in January than at any time this season, DOH added.

People can find more information about testing for COVID-19 on the DOH website, along with other resources and information on how to interpret test results.