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Health care providers in Kodiak joined forces to set up a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at East Elementary School. People must receive a referral from their health care provider to get tested.
The drive-thru will open later this week or as needed, according to Elsa DeHart, a Kodiak public health nurse.
The Lions Club set up a tent at the school earlier this week to facilitate testing, according to a member of the club.
Individuals who are exhibiting symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath are instructed to first call their health care provider.
If the health care provider believes testing is necessary, they will instruct the individual to go to the testing drive-thru. The drive-thru site is not open to the public, and people will not be allowed to get tested unless a test has been deemed necessary by a health care provider.
According to Carol Austerman, director of the Kodiak Community Health Center, the goal of the drive-thru is to separate individuals who may have the virus from the general public.
Austerman said the cost of testing is dependent on individual health insurance plans, but KCHC is working with patients to make sure cost is not a barrier for testing.
Numerous Kodiak residents have been tested for the virus, but none had tested positive as of Wednesday morning, according to DeHart.
According to Carlie Franz, a communications specialist with the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, the hospital has 25 beds and is “well equipped” to care for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. However, Franz said that most people can be treated at home and will not require hospital services.
Kodiak School District Superintendent Larry LeDoux said it’s a temporary site, and will be relocated if schools reopen after the extended spring break.
The site was chosen because it provides some degree of confidentiality and easy access, LeDoux said. However, he said he believes the school will remain closed for the rest of the year. A decision about school closures will be made at the end of the extended spring break.
“Across the nation, the vast majority have been self managed at home. If we follow that same pattern with a minor number of critically ill patients, we should have no problem taking care for those patients,” Franz said.
As of Wednesday morning, 406 people in Alaska had been tested for the virus. Nine people have tested positive for COVID-19. Three new cases were diagnosed on Wednesday. All nine cases are related to travel outside of Alaska. The known cases in Alaska have been diagnosed in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward, and Ketchikan