Free COVID-19 testing site opening in Pasco

Health officials urge you to get tested -- symptoms or no symptoms

PASCO, Wash. — While contact tracers look into what caused a spike in Tri-Cities coronavirus cases announced Wednesday, a new testing site was prepped in hopes of lowering the numbers.

A free community COVID-19 testing site opens Thursday on West Argent Road in Pasco. Health care and emergency workers joined the Pasco Fire Department and its chief in encouraging people to “be a lifesaver” and get tested.

“Come through here, whether you’re symptomatic or not,” urged Pasco Fire Chief Bob Gear. “Our infection rate is very high in Benton and Franklin County: almost 10 percent compared to the state average down around 2-3 percent. The only way we’re going to beat that metric is to get healthy people tested and asymptomatic people tested that don’t know that they’re spreading.”

Chief Gear says a number of local firefighters have come out of retirement to help staff the site. The local health district says the staffers tasked with performing the testing are highly trained.

WEDNESDAY: 31 new cases of COVID-19 in Yakima County; no deaths

WEDNESDAY: Health officials report spike in Tri-Cities area virus cases

“Testing for COVID is really the first critical step in being able to control this pandemic,” said Dr. Amy Person of the Benton-Franklin Health District. “Being able to have a site that is staffed locally, that’s in a location that won’t need to be repurposed back to its original life — like the HAPO Center and the Toyota Center — is critical to sustaining testing in our community.”

The new testing site is located at 3110 W. Argent Road, north of the Highway 395-Interstate 182 interchange; look for the white tent and traffic cones in a parking lot just west of Columbia Basin College.

Testing is free and available Thursday-Monday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. “regardless of a person’s insurance or immigration status.” The site is ADA accessible. Some staff members are multilingual in Spanish, Somali and American Sign Language.

The drive- and walk-through testing site is designed to test up to 500 people per day. Walk-ins are OK but pre-registering at will get you faster service — as short as 15 minutes, organizers say. Expect test results within three days.