Majority using low-barrier Covid-19 test site lack a primary care doctor


Health department plans to release more information about low-barrier test site this week

The majority of people tested at Whatcom County’s low-barrier Covid-19 pilot test site at Civic Field Stadium in Bellingham did not have a primary healthcare provider, the Whatcom County Health Department found.

The low-barrier site is the first site in the county that performed free drive-through and walk-up testing for people without an appointment or a doctor’s referral. While the majority of those tested (86 percent) had health insurance, only 33.5 percent reported that they have a primary care provider.

The testing site was a four-day pilot program, with testing on July 10-11 and July 17-18. In that time, 1,814 people were tested, with 1,021 tests conducted last weekend alone. In a July 20 press release, the county health department said that everyone had been notified of their results and about one percent of people tested positive.

Since the test site opened, the percentage of people testing positive in Whatcom County has declined to 2.1 percent. For the week ending July 1, 2.7 percent of people tested in Whatcom County were positive. The state’s goal for the percentage of individuals testing positive is 2 percent or less.

Eighty-nine people from Blaine, Custer and Birch Bay were tested at the site. Seventy percent of those tested at the site said they live in Bellingham, and “very few” came from outside the county, according to the press release. Of those tested, 29.3 percent were ages 19-29 and 25.4 percent were 30-49.

Just over 11 percent of those who got tested said they were a close contact of a confirmed case, and 23.7 reported that they had symptoms but were not a close contact of a confirmed case. The rest (64.5 percent) wanted to be tested for screening purposes only.

At press time, Whatcom County Health Department and its partner in running the site, Whatcom Unified Command, had not announced additional test dates or released other information on future low-barrier testing. The press release said more information would be available later this week.

Currently, the easiest way to get tested in Whatcom County is to get a referral from a primary care provider. Northwest Labs in Bellingham offers drive-through testing by appointment with a referral. They typically have appointments available within 24 hours, according to the news release.

Those without a primary care provider can contact their insurance to get a list of doctors in their provider network. SeaMar Community Health Center is providing testing for everyone, even those who aren’t patients, the press release said.

More information about testing can be found here:


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