As cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, Bellevue College has a solution: a free drive-thru and walkup testing center. Starting on Tuesday, December 15, Bellevue College has hosted the first free, high volume COVID-19 testing center on the Eastside of Seattle. All that is needed in order to be tested is a photo ID with date of birth (individuals do not need to be US citizens to be tested), an insurance card if one possesses health insurance (though they will not be turned away without insurance), and preferably an appointment through the website (https://www.ichs.com/free-covid-19-testing/). When registering for an appointment, people can request language interpretation in order to keep testing accessible to everyone.
This testing site is operated by International Community Health Services (ICHS), and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will test individuals with and without COVID-19 symptoms (including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, and/or nausea or vomiting). If registering for an appointment, people have the option to click whether or not they have symptoms so that the testers have the most information possible, and if they have symptoms, they may list them on the form. Regardless of symptoms, masks are required to enter the testing site. If one is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested due to exposure to COVID-19, ICHS advises waiting five to seven days post-exposure before testing. According to ICHS, the test will take around fifteen minutes, and results will be available in 24-48 hours, with a phone call given if the test is positive.
The first person interviewed who received the test reported to The Watchdog, “The line was very short compared to other times I’ve been tested. Well run, easy freeway access. I was in and out in under 30 minutes.” Later, they followed up to report they received their test results in 24 hours.
Another anonymous local added, “It was amazing! Get there early, and expect it to take about an hour. I got my results in about 24 hours.”
Another individual who had an appointment said it took about twenty minutes. “It’s a drive-thru, but self-administered. You don’t have to stick the swab all the way up, either. They have four or five lanes, too.”
After their test, another Bellevue resident noted, “I had an appointment at 9:07 and was out by around 9:40. They let you self administer the test, which I preferred. It’s not bad at all! Just feels like a tickle.”
For prevention of further spread of COVID-19, it is imperative to get tested. According to the CDC, people should be tested if they have had symptoms of COVID-19, have had close contact (defined as within six feet for fifteen minutes or more) with individuals infected with COVID-19, have attended populous events such as large social gatherings or travel, and/or have been asked or referred to receive testing by their healthcare provider. If tested, the CDC advises people to self-quarantine and/or isolate as they await results.