Free COVID-19 At-home Test Kits Now Available Online

Reading Time: 3 minutes

January 21, 2022

Today, the Washington State Department of Health launched an online ordering portal for free COVID-19 test kits in partnership with the Say Yes COVID Test Program. Beginning today, Washington state residents will be able to visit www.sayyescovidhometest.org to order rapid-antigen COVID tests online and will receive those tests delivered at no cost. People can order up to 5 free tests per household.

Note: Supplies are limited at this time and demand is quite high. If you have trouble ordering, please contact the state hotline at 1-800-525-0127 (press #).

A federal online ordering portal also launched earlier this week. Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests by going to www.covidtests.gov. The tests are completely free, and orders will usually ship within 7-12 days through USPS.

Antigen test kits are available for purchase, as well, through participating pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid. Check with your local pharmacy frequently, and in person, for availability.

If choosing to purchase kits through a pharmacy, please know that your health insurance company may reimburse you for up to 8 at-⁠home tests per month for each person on the plan. For more information, call your provider or visit https://www.cms.gov/how-to-get-your-at-home-OTC-COVID-19-test-for-free.

Those seeking a PCR test or other testing options can go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations#region4 for a full list of locations in our region.

For information about the Skagit Fairgrounds testing site, please go to www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call Public Health at (360) 416-1500.

Testing supplies continue to be limited due to extremely high demand. As our federal, state, and local governments continue to work to increase testing resources, we encourage Skagitonians to utilize the options listed above to gain access to testing. 

#

Kits de prueba gratuitos de COVID-19 en el hogar ahora disponibles en línea

Hoy, el Departamento de Salud del Estado de Washington lanzó un portal de pedidos en línea para kits de prueba covid-19 gratuitos en asociación con el programa de pruebas Say Yes COVID. A partir de hoy, los residentes del estado de Washington podrán visitar https://sayyescovidhometest.org/casa.html para solicitar pruebas rápidas de ANTÍGENO COVID online y recibirán esas pruebas entregadas sin costo alguno. Las personas pueden pedir hasta 5 pruebas gratuitas  por  hogar.

Nota: Los suministros son limitados en este momento y la demanda es bastante alta. Si tiene problemas para realizar pedidos, comuníquese con la línea directa del estado al 1-800-525-0127.

Un portal federal de pedidos en línea también se lanzó a principios de esta semana. Cada hogar en los Estados Unidos ahora es elegible para ordenar 4 pruebas gratuitas deCOVID-19 en el hogar yendo a https://www.covidtests.gov/es/. Las pruebas son completamente gratuitas, y los usuarios generalmente se enviarán en 7-12 días a través de USPS.

Tambiénhay disponibles kits de prueba de ntigen para su compra,  a través de farmacias participantes como Walgreens y Rite Aid. Consulte con s u farmacia local para conocer la disponibilidad.

Si elige comprar kits a través de una farmacia, tenga en cuenta quenuestra compañía de seguros de salud puede reembolsarle hasta 8 pruebas en el hogar por mes para cada persona en el plan. Para obtener más información, llame a su proveedor.

Aquellos que buscan una prueba PCR u otras opciones de prueba pueden ir a https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthDiseases/coronavirusTESTsites.htm para obtener una lista completa de ubicaciones.

Para obtener información sobre el sitio de pruebas de Skagit Fairgrounds, visite www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus o llame a Salud Pública al (360) 416-1500.

Los suministros de prueba continúan siendo limitados debido a la demanda extremadamente alta. A medida que nuestros gobiernos federal, estatal y local continúan trabajando para aumentar los recursos de prueba, alentamos a los habitantes de Skagiton a utilizar las opciones enumeradas anteriormente para obtener acceso a las pruebas.


Extended Testing Hours at the Fairgrounds Beginning Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

January 18, 2022

Skagit County Public Health is pleased to announce that beginning today—Tuesday, January 18—hours of operation for COVID-19 testing at the Skagit County Fairgrounds will be extended! The site will now be open to testing every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Please note that testing will also be available this week on Wednesday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm to make up for the long weekend.

Public Health put the call out for volunteers on Friday afternoon and our residents answered! Over the weekend, more than 50 individuals reached out to our Volunteer Coordinator about assisting at the site.

“The response from the community was incredible,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health. “With your help, we have been able to extend our hours at the site, potentially doubling the number of people we can test each day.”

Rapid antigen testing is provided for free and is available to anyone 5 years and older who lives, works, or goes to school in Skagit County. Individuals must be symptomatic or have had recent exposure to COVID-19 to qualify for service at the site.

For testing, please come to the South Gate entrance at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon. Note that gates open at 11:30 am, with services starting at noon. Even with the new extended hours, please expect long wait times. Please do not block public or private driveways and be mindful of pedestrians.

For a full list of other testing providers in the region, go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations.

Vaccinations at the Fairgrounds will continue to be offered weekly from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. Both pediatric vaccines and boosters are available by appointment only. To make an appointment, go to www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Please come to the North Gate entrance for vaccinations at 1409 Virginia Street in Mount Vernon.

Boosters are also available at the downtown Public Health office at 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor) in Mount Vernon—by appointment only. For appointments, go to www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine.

For more information about Public Health’s testing and vaccination services, go to www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call (360) 416-1500.

#

Horario de pruebas extendido en el recinto ferial a partir de hoy

¡Salud Pública del Condado de Skagit se complace en anunciar que a partir de hoy, martes 18 de enero, se extenderán las horas de operación para las pruebas de COVID-19 en el recinto ferial del Condado de Skagit! El  sitio  ahora  estará abierto a pruebas todos los  lunes, martes, jueves y viernes de 12:00 pm a 7:00 pm.

Tenga en cuenta que las pruebas también estarán disponibles esta semana el miércoles de 12:00 pm a 7:00 pm para compensar el fin de semana largo.

¡Salud Pública hizo un llamado a los voluntarios el viernes por la tarde y nuestros residentes respondieron! Durante el fin de semana, más de 50 personas se comunicaron con nuestro Coordinador de Voluntarios para ayudar  en el sitio.

“La respuesta de la comunidad fue increíble”, dijo Jennifer Johnson, de Salud Pública del Condado de Skagit. “Con su ayuda, hemos podido extender nuestras horas en el sitio, lo que podría duplicar el número de personas que podemos probar cada día”.

Las pruebas rápidas de antígenos se proporcionan de forma gratuita y están disponibles para cualquier persona de 5 años o más que viva, trabaje o vaya a la escuela en el condado de Skagit. Las personas deben ser sintomáticas o haber tenido una exposición reciente a COVID-19 para calificar para el servicio en el sitio.

Para las pruebas, por favor venga a la entrada de South Gate en 501 Taylor Street en Mount Vernon. Note que las puertas se abren a las 11:30 am,con servicios a partir del mediodía. Incluso con las nuevas horas extendidas, espere largos tiempos de espera. Por favor, no bloquee los caminos de entrada públicos o privados y tenga en cuenta a los peatones.

Para obtener una lista completa de otros proveedores de pruebas en la región, vaya a https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations.

Las vacunas en el recinto ferial continuarán ofreciéndose semanalmente de 3:00 p.m. a 6:00 p.m. Tanto las vacunas pediátricas como los refuerzos están disponibles solo con cita previa. Para concertar una cita, vaya a www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Por favor, venga a la entrada de North Gate para vacunarse en 1409 Virginia Street en Mount Vernon.

Los refuerzos también están disponibles en la oficina de Salud Pública del centro de la ciudad en 700 S2 nd  Street (3rd  floor) en Mount Vernon, solo con cita previa. Para citas, vaya a  www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine.

Para obtener más información sobre los servicios de pruebas y vacunación de Salud Pública, visite www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus  o llame al (360) 416-1500.


Public Health to Close Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site After January 28, 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

November 19, 2021

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will close permanently after Friday, January 28, 2022. The site, located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon, has operated since November of 2020, with a temporary closure between July – August 2021. Prior to this, COVID-19 testing was provided by Public Health at Skagit Valley College.

To date, Public Health has administered approximately 55,492 vaccine doses in Skagit County. Since the Fairgrounds reopened in August 2021, over 11,400 antigen tests have been conducted. When the site closes, Public Health’s COVID-19 response will have included 17 months of testing (no services between March – July 2021), and 13 months of vaccination services.

“We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished at the Fairgrounds. After nearly a year and a half of providing critical pandemic response services to our community, its time for our staff to shift and refocus on the many other responsibilities that fall on Public Health.” 

Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director

Antigen testing will continue to be offered until the site closes after January 28. Testing is available to people 5 years and older who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County and who are symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19. No appointment or insurance is required for testing services.

First, second, and third doses of vaccine for people 12 years and older will also continue to be offered—no appointment required—through January 28. The final day to receive a first dose of vaccine with a second dose guaranteed at the Fairgrounds will be January 17, 2022. After this date, people will be required to seek their second dose elsewhere.

The final day to book an appointment for a COVID-19 booster will be November 24, 2021. To make an appointment for a booster, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health.”

Lastly, beginning December 1, 2021, the Fairgrounds will be increasing the daily number of pediatric vaccine appointments for children 5-11 years old. Please note that at this time, appointments are still limited. To schedule a pediatric vaccine appointment, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health,” or use Vaccine Locator to find another provider. 

For a full list of testing and vaccination providers in Skagit County, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. 


New Operational Changes for the Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site

Reading Time: < 1 minute

September 10, 2021

Beginning on Monday, September 13, the Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will be changing its operations, limiting testing and vaccination services to individuals who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County. This change is due to high demand and supply chain issues with testing supplies.

Also beginning on September 13, testing will be limited to individuals 5 and older who are actively exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, or who have had a known COVID-19 exposure. Limiting to these two groups will allow us to ensure access to testing for disease mitigation purposes.

As a reminder, the Skagit County Fairgrounds location provides antigen testing and should not be used for pre-travel. If seeking a test before traveling, please seek out a testing provider that uses PCR testing. A full list of providers can be found on our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.

Testing should not be used as a way to guarantee safety. Testing is a point-in-time measure of whether someone has COVID-19 and should not be used to justify decisions that are risky if you are unvaccinated, like travel or gathering in large groups. The best way to be safe is by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when in crowded settings.

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Site will be closed today (Friday, September 10) due to a scheduling conflict, and will reopen on Monday, September 13 at 5:00 p.m. Those seeking testing or vaccination, and who meet the new operational criteria, are asked to come to the South Gate Entrance at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon. Services are free; no appointment or insurance is required.

For more information about the Skagit County fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site, please go to our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call (360) 416-1500.


We’re Open Again: COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination to Begin at Skagit County Fairgrounds on August 30th

Reading Time: 3 minutes

August 25, 2021

[updated August 27, 2021]

Beginning Monday, August 30th, Skagit County will once again be operating a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site at the Skagit County Fairgrounds. Both testing and vaccination will be available to the public free of cost, Monday through Friday from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Note: The Fairgrounds testing and vaccine site will be closed on Monday, September 6th for the Labor Day holiday, and Friday, September 10th due to an event that was pre-scheduled to take place on site.

The decision to reopen the Fairgrounds location was made due to the recent spike in cases in Skagit County, and the accompanying increase in demand for testing services. The latest COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows current COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions at their highest levels to-date. The high case numbers are likely to continue in the coming month due to the delta variant, putting increased strain on our hospitals and medical staff.

Vaccination is—and will continue to be—the best tool for preventing COVID-19. The County also aims to be proactive in response to this week’s news regarding Pfizer’s full FDA approval for those 16 years and older, as well as the Governor’s recent vaccination requirements for employees of certain sectors. Public Health’s goal is to continue to make vaccines easily accessible for all eligible individuals, particularly as families gear up for the new 2021/2022 school year.

“We understand that this decision to reopen the Fairgrounds site may seem like we are moving backwards to some, but this decision is a sign of our county’s strength and endurance. We are fortunate to be able to respond to rising cases and increasing demand for testing and vaccination by reopening the site. It shows that we can act quickly and effectively when action is needed.”

Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director

All Public Health testing and vaccine services (except for a select few outreach locations) will now move officially to the Fairgrounds beginning on August 30th. Mobile vaccine clinics this fall will be prioritized based on location, need, and risk, and most people needing low barrier vaccination will be directed to the Fairgrounds clinic or another Skagit provider. 

Those seeking testing or vaccination are asked to come to the South Gate Entrance of the Fairgrounds, located at 501 Taylor St, Mt Vernon, WA 98273. Both testing and vaccination will be operating as a drive-through clinic, though accommodations will be available to those who arrive on foot or who require assistance.

For Testing

Public Health will be using self-swab antigen testing at this location, with results available within 15 minutes. The site can serve anyone 5 years and older for testing. No insurance or appointment will be required. Please note that antigen testing is not intended for pre-travel. Those seeking testing for travel should find a location offering PCR testing.

A full list of testing providers can be found at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations

For Vaccination

All three currently authorized vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, will be available at the Fairground Vaccination site. Anyone 12 years and older can utilize this site to access a first or second dose of vaccine; no appointment required.

For certain immunocompromised individuals, Public Health will also make third doses of either Pfizer or Moderna available. Please speak with your doctor before seeking a third dose of vaccine. Third doses will not be available for the general public until a determination is made by the FDA, CDC, and Washington Department of Health. For anyone seeking a second or third dose, please bring your Vaccination Card with you when you come to the site.

For more information about the Skagit County fairgrounds testing and vaccination site, please go to our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call (360) 416-1500.


Taking the Guesswork out of Getting Tested

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Skagit County Public Health has been receiving a lot of calls in recent days from people asking about local COVID-19 testing options. In the past week alone, about 30% of all our incoming calls have been about testing.

Most callers are asking about access and want to know where they can go locally to get tested. In response, we have made sure that our testing options webpage is up-to-date and matches the Washington Department of Health’s list as well.

For a list of local testing options, go to: https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthDiseases/coronavirusTESTsites.htm.

For a full list of regional testing locations, go to: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19/TestingLocations

Many callers are also wondering about the differences between testing locations and the types of tests that they offer. While some locations offer both PCR and Antigen testing, many times a location will provide one or the other. With the recent opening of the Canadian border to fully vaccinated Americans, it is not surprising that so many people are wondering about which type of COVID test they should get.

So, here are some answers that may be helpful as you choose between testing options:

When should I get tested?

If you have had close contact exposure to a COVID-19 case or if you are concerned that you may have been exposed and are not experiencing symptoms, it is recommended that you wait 3 to 5 days after that initial exposure to get a diagnostic test. This wait time is due to the incubation period of the virus, the amount of the virus in your body, and the characteristics of diagnostic tests.

Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get tested as soon as possible. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What types of tests are available?

There are essentially two broad categories of testing:

  1. Antigen test (frequently referred to as a rapid test). This test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus. It can be done in at a pharmacy, clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick, and in some cases, results can be reported within 15 minutes.
  1. PCR test (may be referred to as a viral or molecular test). PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can also be done at a pharmacy, clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results can be longer (generally in the 2-3 day range) since PCR samples are tested in a lab.

What kind of test should I get?

It is always best to talk with your health care provider about which test is best for you.

If you have symptoms, get the quick antigen test if it is available. If it is positive, you can start isolating right away to protect those around you from the spread of the virus. If the antigen test is negative, you should get retested using a PCR test and be sure to isolate yourself until you receive the result.

For most people who do not have symptoms but want to be tested because they may have been exposed or are traveling soon, the PCR test is the better choice. It can find small amounts of the virus that might be seen before symptoms start.

How accurate are these tests?

PCR tests work by detecting genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 cannot be confused with the genetic material from other viruses, so this kind of test is highly specific. This means it rarely gives a false positive. If you are tested and the test comes back positive, you can be very sure that you are infected with this virus. Antigen tests are also very specific and rarely give a false positive.

Unfortunately, neither test is equally sensitive. If the specimen collection is not done perfectly, or if you are in an early stage of infection or already partially recovered, a sample might not contain enough viral material to come back positive. This is why timing is key for getting a positive test result. If you have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 but are not sick, it is best to get tested at least 5 days after the last potential exposure.

Because false negative results on diagnostic tests can happen, a negative result should not give you a sense of false security. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, it is safest to assume you are infected and self-quarantine.

What test do I need to travel?

While the most universally accepted COVID-19 test is a molecular PCR test, some destinations may accept antigen tests as well. It is best to check with your destination, airline (etc.) when planning your trip.

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel domestically or internationally, you will be required to get tested 1-3 days before your trip. Those who are fully vaccinated do not require testing before domestic travel, however most international destinations will still require pre-travel testing.

For those traveling, the best local PCR testing option is:

I’m looking for a low barrier testing option in Skagit County. Where should I go?

Skagit County Public Health is now offering free antigen testing at our Wednesday evening vaccine clinics at the Skagit County Administrative Building (700 S 2nd Street Mount Vernon, WA 98273) from 6-9pm.

We accept anyone 5 years and older; no appointment or insurance required. Test results are available in 15 minutes.

Note: This is NOT intended as a pre-travel test.

Can I use an At-Home Test Kit?

If you need to be tested for COVID-19 and can’t get tested by a healthcare provider or another testing location, you can consider using either a self-collection kit or a self-test that can be performed at home or anywhere else. Sometimes a self-test is also called a “home test” or an “at-home test.”

The following At-Home Tests are recommended by the Washington Department of Health (DOH):

When using an At-Home Test, please keep the following in mind:

  • All instructions for performing the test must be followed.
  • Self-tests can be used by anyone who is symptomatic regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Unvaccinated persons with no COVID-19 symptoms can also use self-tests, especially if they were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • If an individual tests positive, they should isolate and inform any close contacts.

Those who test positive are asked to call the WA State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-525-0127 as soon as possible. The hotline is open from 6 AM to 10 PM Monday, and 6 AM to 6 PM Tuesday – Friday (and observed state holidays). Language assistance is available.

What is an Antibody test?

An antibody test looks for the body’s response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is a blood test that is good at determining if you had the disease, but not good for determining if you have the disease. As such, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose the virus.

While there is evidence that antibodies may provide protection from infection, that has not yet been proven and therefore results of an antibody test should not be used to determine immunity.

#

For more information about testing and for frequently asked questions, go to the WA DOH COVID-19 Testing webpage: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/TestingforCOVID19.