Federal COVID testing site opens Saturday at Pima Community College West Campus
Up to 2,000 PCR tests offered daily
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread, cases are soaring in Pima County.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports the county’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has reached 28%.
About 10,000 COVID-19 tests are being administered daily in Pima County compared to about 80,000 across the rest of the state. That includes pharmacies and doctors’ offices administering tests.
However, a large testing center is about to change that. A federally funded COVID-19 testing site will soon open at the Pima Community College West Campus. Up to 1,000 free PCR tests will be administered on Saturday, Jan. 22, as part of a ‘soft opening.’ Then, starting Monday, Jan. 24, the FEMA site will administer up to 2,000 free tests daily.
“The county received this FEMA grant, which allows them to offer this pop-up drive-through clinic,” said Libby Howell, a spokesperson for the college. “They needed a big site, so they came to us.”
It’s also located on a major bus route, with a stop near Anklam Road and Greasewood Road. Howell believes this will help the county reach a larger population.
“During the omicron spike that we are currently experiencing, it’s very infectious,” she said. “So, even people who are vaccinated and boosted can get the omicron variant.”
The county has six other testing sites that are by appointment only, plus a few pop-up events for walk-ins. Officials say it’s simply not enough to keep up with the rapidly rising cases.
“Dr. Cullen, our Health Director, isn’t quite convinced that we have reached the peak yet,” said Anthony Gimino, a public information officer for the county. “Maybe that’s happened in other parts of the country, [but] really not in Arizona. So, right now there’s a big demand that the county is trying to match.”
The drive-through FEMA site will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Feb. 12.
“If you’re symptomatic, get tested,” said Gimino. “If you’re a close contact, we recommend getting tested on day five.”
Though they are not required, appointments are strongly encouraged.
“We will take folks who don’t have an appointment,” said Howell, “but then they run the risk that there might not be any appointments available.”
The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently approved opening another site at the Kino Sports Complex. That one should be up and running next week, providing up to 1,000 tests a day.
To book an appointment at the Pima Community College West Campus location, click HERE.
Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.