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By this point, you’ve probably heard that the Skagit County COVID-19 Testing Site has moved from Skagit Valley College to the Skagit County Fairgrounds. While moves like this one always result in some growing pains, we are happy to report that the transition is going quite smoothly!
As a Public Health staff and a part-time testing site worker, I have really appreciated being a part of the test site’s evolution. Since April, we have served over 33,760 individuals! We have also worked through extremely hot days, frigidly cold days, and everything in between. Our amazing volunteers and staff have shown so much dedication to this work, and have—honestly—become like a second family.
I wanted to share with you a quick insight into what to expect when you come to our new location, because sometimes new things can seem a bit intimidating. So here is what to expect, step-by-step:
Step One: Planning
Sometimes waits can be long (a few hours) and sometimes they can be quite short (only 15-30 minutes). We will try our best to communicate current wait times on our Twitter and Facebook pages, so always give those a check before leaving the house. Typically wait times are the longest first thing in the morning. Vehicles can begin lining up an hour before opening—and there is no street parking/waiting allowed.
Before you leave, make sure that you have all your documents! Check your wallet or purse before walking out the door. Do you have your ID and insurance card?
There has been confusion in the past about the cost of testing. We will test all insured and un-insured individuals who live or work in Skagit County, but that doesn’t mean that the test is free and that you don’t need your information!
For those who are un-insured, there is a federal grant that covers the cost of your test. This grant is limited, and meant only for those who do not have insurance.
For those with insurance, please expect to provide this information! Check with your insurance provider before you get tested to make sure that they will cover the cost of your test. Skagit County Public Health does not do the billing—this is done by the lab. In order to test you, we will require your insurance information. If you do not have your card, please come with either a picture of it, or the insurance ID number and group number. We may also need your social security number, if you have specific coverage.
Parent or legal guardian consent is required for all minors, ages 4 to17. We do not test children under age 4; in this case please consult with your pediatrician.
Step Two: Enter
The entrance to the site is through the South Gate, located at 501 Taylor Street, Mount Vernon 98273. There, you will be greeted by one of our amazing volunteers who will ask you some questions (Do you live or work in Skagit County?), and will direct you to a lane. They can also tell you about how long your expected wait may be. Once you enter the fairgrounds and are assigned a holding lane, there is no exit until just prior to entering the testing zone.
For the safety of our volunteers and staff, please be sure to wear your mask, and only lower your window about 2 inches when answering questions.
Step Three: Waiting
We are using a ferry system at the location, which helps to avoid vehicles from congregating on the nearby street. Up to 84 vehicles can be held in our 12 lanes, and another 63 in the entrance lane and building. Vehicles will be moved forward with their lane, and each lane will move one at a time. About every 15 minutes, we can empty a lane. If you are the last car in lane 12, expect a three hour wait. The only exit from this point forward, is just prior to entering the testing zone.
When you get to your lane please turn off your vehicle and put on the parking break (this is to avoid any bumper-car type blunders!). Bring a coat! It can get chilly and just like the Washington State ferry system, the holding lanes are a no idling zone!
Also, make sure not to drain your vehicle’s battery while you sit in line. While we have staff who can help with a jump-start, it can certainly slow down the process and cause you unnecessary stress. I have personally done this, and it isn’t fun!
If you are waiting and you need to use the restroom, please note that there is a port-a-potty for public use in the waiting area.
Use this time to get your documents ready!
Step Four: Registration
A site worker will indicate when it is time for your lane to move forward. Please drive slowly! Especially when it is raining and visibility is bad, we want to make sure that everyone is safe. Just like before, when you enter the building, turn off your vehicle and put on your parking break. Please lower your window (when instructed) just a few inches, and wear your mask.
Vehicles will enter the testing building one at a time, and drivers will be directed to one of two lanes. Within each lane, there are multiple workers doing registration. Please be patient as they work to collect your information—it is imperative that they put down the correct information in order for you to receive your results, and to have your test billed correctly.
Step Five: Testing
Testing is done in the same building as registration. Once you pull up to a testing bay, you will be greeted by a nurse who will provide you with instruction. You will be expected to administer your own test—a nasal swab that will go in both nostrils (four large circles), and then you will place the swab in a tube through the vehicle window. Parents, we will instruct you on how to swab the noses of your small children.
Our nurses are amazing; so patient, and kind. It isn’t unusual for someone to say that they are a bit nervous—don’t worry! Our nurses will walk you through the process.
Step Six: Results
Typically, results can be expected within 72 hours (or three days). If it is a positive result, you will receive a phone call from a Public Health staff. In the past, we have experienced some delays from the lab. Check our website for any updates.
Attention: Wait times for results can sometimes take longer than 72 hours. Please check our website for updates. You can also check with site workers at the front gate for current result times.
If it is a negative, you will receive a test message that says, “Negative.” If you will need proof of your results, please let your registering site worker know, or you can call Public Health (360-416-1500) once you receive your results.
We are so happy to be in our new location, and excited to continue serving Skagit County! Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time, as we settle in.