GIG HARBOR, WA — Looking for a last-minute COVID-19 test? Well, if you live in the Gig Harbor area, you'll have a new option thanks to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. TPCHD confirmed this week it would be opening a new, drive-thru mass testing site at the Vern Volunteer Pavilion in Sehmel Homestead Park Thursday.
Though the testing site does not require an appointment, they are encouraged, and you can register online in advance. TPCHD says the site will be open most Mondays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and on Fridays, from noon to 5 p.m.
As with other TPCHD-run mass testing sites, the new location will offer rapid antigen tests. Visitors will be handed a test, perform it themselves in their car, then hand it to testing site volunteers. The health department says, the system helps lines move quicker, and will get visitors their results sooner.
The mass testing sites are likely the best option for a COVID-19 test if you're in a hurry, but there are other options available.
Washingtonians can order up to four free rapid antigen coronavirus tests through a federal government website — covidtests.gov — to help ease a nationwide shortage of the tests.
Evergreen State residents should plan ahead to have the rapid COVID-19 tests on hand before they need them — whether as part of test-to-stay protocols in schools and workplaces, or after potential exposure to COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at-home testing for people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms five days after a potential exposure. Those symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches.
"Certainly if you're going to gather with family, if you're going to a gathering where people are immunocompromised or where they're elderly or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected from a vaccine, that might be an opportunity you want to test," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said.
The federal and state websites aren't the only way to get rapid antigen coronavirus tests. A government order requiring private insurance companies to cover at-home tests took effect in January, though most companies will require upfront payment at pharmacies and online retailers.