November 4 saw the grand opening of the City of Bainbridge Island drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Town Square. The site is staffed mostly by Bainbridge Prepares volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Medical Emergency Response (BIEMR), and Community Emergency Response (CERT) teams.
People looking to be tested sign up online here and then drive to Town Square at the assigned time. Volunteers check the person in and then direct him or her to the testing tent. There a volunteer wearing personal protective equipment hands the person a tray with hand sanitizer, a sealed two-inch nasal swab test, and a test tube. The person sanitizes his or her hands, opens the test and swabs both nostrils, and then places the completed swab in the test tube. After sealing it, he or she hands it back to the volunteer.
People get their results, which come from University of Washington Medicine, within 24 to 72 hours. The City’s COVID-19 Safety Officer Chris Rubin calls people who test positive, and the Kitsap Public Health Department performs contract tracing to identify people likely to have been co-infected.
The site is for people who have been experiencing the following COVID-19 symptoms:
- shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- muscle/body aches
- loss of taste or smell
- sore throat
- congestion/runny nose
It is also for people identified by public health officials as having been in “close contact” with someone infected with COVID-19, needing a negative test to return to work, or exposed through travel or a large gathering to an area with a high rate of COVID infection.
It is not for children under five, who should be tested by their pediatricians, for people wanting clearance to travel, and not for people seeking clearance to travel to Hawaii.
The test is a PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction test. It is not an antibody test and so it shows only whether you do or do not have an active coronavirus infection. The test is free to participants—insurance providers or the Health Resources & Service Administration will cover the cost.
Sign up for a test two weeks in advance at https://bainbridgewa.gov/covidtest. Forty-eight people are tested per day. The site runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 1 and 5 p.m.