Pima County to open additional free testing site as demand soars

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima county, Arizona and most of the US are in high COVID-19 transmission rates.

It’s not only driving up the demand for hospital beds. The demand for tests is growing, too.

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, more people are in need of COVID-19 tests. The Pima County Health Department (PCHD) reports nearly 90% of new COVID-19 cases in the county are of the delta variant.

“Not unanticipated as we see increase cases, there’s more contacts, there’s more people that have been exposed, there’s more people that are concerned so there’s an increase in testing,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Department director.

Nearly 7,000 people across Arizona were tested Monday alone according to the state health department. In a memo, Pima County administrator, Chuck Huckleberry, said demand for testing “dramatically increased” from about 700 tests the second week of June, to more than 4,500 tests the second week of August.

“The county recognizes the need to provide free testing,” said Dr. Cullen.

The county said they hope to stand up and fund testing at their building on Country Club. Hopefully it will be up by the weekend.

“We hope by Saturday the County will be offering testing, free testing,” said Dr. Cullen. “The hours for this have not been specifically determined, but we anticipate doing afternoon and evening hours.”

The County is asking for people to seek tests at other locations like doctors’ offices or pharmacies if they can afford it. Pima County has spent $49 million on COVID-19 testing since the pandemic began.

The state continues to fund testing sites at the Tucson International Airport and the Ellie Towne community center.

A letter from the county to Senator Mark Kelly sent Monday said the state has declined to pay for fixed COVID-19 testing sites and pleaded for the senator’s assistance for reimbursement or direct funding to bypass the state.

“Based on the decreasing funding that is available through a state contract to another major contractor we have taken that responsibility into the county and said ‘we will stand up testing,’” said Dr. Cullen.

The new county testing site will be able to conduct 400 tests a day, pushing up to 500. The county said testing demand is similar to what it was in December 2021 and January 2021.

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