The low-barrier drive-through testing offered the past two weekends at the Civic Field Stadium parking lot will not be offered this Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25. The pilot testing project was provided by Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) and the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD). They are currently developing new options to improve service delivery in the future. The WCHD continues to work with community healthcare providers to reduce delays and lower barriers to testing within their practices and recommends that those needing testing contact their healthcare provider or one of the available COVID testing resources identified on the WCHD website.
The drive-through testing facility collected specimens from more than 1,800 people on July 10, 11, 17, and 18. Long lines and strong interest from the community reinforced the importance of providing this type of low-barrier service for local residents in the future. However, the pilot project revealed that personnel resources required for drive-through testing at this scale and without pre-registration make it unsustainable. The staff, volunteer, and financial commitment for this testing site was extensive; WUC and WCHD are unable to maintain this commitment moving forward. The four days of the testing cost approximately $126,000 and depended on over 50 volunteers each day.
The WCHD and WUC are exploring alternative approaches to provide a more efficient testing process for the community. Goals include reduced wait times, easier access for county residents who do not live within Bellingham, and accommodations for individuals who do not have access to a vehicle.
More information about access to testing and the drive-through pilot testing site is available at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/covidtesting.