Free tests for COVID-19 offered in Forks on Sunday

FORKS — West End residents who are uninsured or have limited financial means can get free COVID-19 tests from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday outside the Forks High School front entrance.

Extra efforts have been made to reach the region’s homeless population and Spanish-speaking population that travels outside the North Olympic Peninsula for work, Forks city and Clallam County health officials said.

Organizers are reaching out to as many people as they can who are getting assistance through community-based programs, City Attorney-Planner Rod Fleck said.

Anyone of limited means who has coronavirus symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sore throat, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, or the loss of the sense of taste or smell is being urged to get tested.

Fleck said the intent is to include residents who have traveled outside the North Olympic Peninsula or had visitors from outside the Peninsula in the last three weeks.

The drive-through test, at 261 Spartan Ave., employs a nose swab, not the longer COVID-19 swab that is extended from the nasal cavity to the back of the throat and can be painful.

Identification is not required, Fleck said.

A phone number is needed to contact the person to tell them the test results.

The grant-funded effort includes attempts to reach out to members of the Hispanic and Guatemalan communities “who are in some ways underinsured and at high risk,” Andy Brastad, county Health and Human Services director, said Tuesday at the county Board of Health meeting.

“We are currently working with a number of groups, including the city of Forks, Forks Community Hospital and the fire department out there and a number of people who are somehow connected with the Guatemalan community to try to get them to voluntarily come in and get tested.”

One in four Forks residents were Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 Census.

“We do know some of our West End community has gone to the Yakima area,” Dr. Allison Unthank, county health officer, said at the meeting, adding that some travel back and forth regularly for work.

“That really is a lot of the reason that we want to make sure they have access [to testing] readily available to them,” she added.

Yakima County, with 3.3 percent of the state’s population, had 19 percent of the overall confirmed cases in Washington state as of Thursday, but was down as of Tuesday from its high single-day peak of 1,261 cases on July 15, according to www.coronavirus.wa.gov.

Testing will be supervised by Health and Human Services.

Results will be provided within days.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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