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Testing remains one of our best tools to fight COVID-19

I can’t wait for the day COVID-19 stops looming over everything we do. I look forward to getting my vaccination, but I know we can’t relax yet. It’s still important to get a test for COVID-19 if you’re sick, even as you or those around you get vaccinated.

I moved here last summer so my children could spend more time with their grandparents. So far, COVID-19 has made that impossible. What if I contract the virus and pass it to my kids? If they visit their grandparents, they could spread it to them. And my parents are at risk of severe complications.

I wear a mask, wash my hands often, and try to stay 6 feet from others. But, I still got sick over the past year. As a mom of young children, it is nearly impossible to stay healthy for an entire year. So, I took the COVID-19 test a few times. I tested negative, but I know the fear of not knowing if I could infect my family. Testing helps to eliminate that fear—or to determine your next steps to protect yourself and others.

I’m proud to work on a team that helps community members get tested for COVID. Testing options are widely available these days, and our Health Department Testing Branch also offers free testing options to individuals and businesses. With CARES Act funding in 2020, Pierce County purchased antigen and take-home tests for organizations and businesses who can use them. We also partnered with the University of Washington’s SCAN study to offer free COVID tests delivered to and picked up from people’s doors. Recently, we distributed our 100,000th test kit in Pierce County to businesses, community partners and through SCAN to individuals in the county.  We’re happy to keep shipping test kits until we get a good handle on this disease.

We have a vaccine. Why do I need to test?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should get a test. Vaccine supply is limited. Not everyone can get one, but your turn is coming.

When it is your turn, remember you don’t get the full benefit until more than a week after your second dose. Your health is at risk from COVID-19 until that happens. Even then, you could still catch COVID-19, but the vaccine should prepare your body to fight it and keep you from getting a severe case.

If you feel sick, you should consult your healthcare provider to see if you should get a test. Or, simply fill out the SCAN survey to see if you qualify for a test delivered to your door. If you know your status, you can protect others from exposure.

I don’t feel well. How can I get tested?

You can get a free COVID test delivered to your door if you have symptoms. We offer free testing though a partnership with the University of Washington’s SCAN study. If you or your close contacts have symptoms, you can order a test at scanpublichealth.org.

The test is delivered that day or the next. You swab yourself in the comfort of your home and leave the kit outside. The test is picked up from your door the day it arrived, and you can usually get results in 24-48 hours.

You can use drive-thru testing at Cheney Stadium. You do not need an appointment. Check out our list of other testing sites in the county. You also can find upcoming mobile testing sites online. To arrange testing of large groups, see our flyer.

You can also contact your healthcare provider.

While many businesses shifted to remote work, some can’t. We help businesses and organizations set up COVID-19 testing. If you are interested, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch.

Keep being safe.

Remember, until we have community immunity from COVID-19 we cannot let down our guard. Take steps to protect yourself and those around you:

Learn more at tpchd.org/coronavirus

COVID is testing us. Test it back. tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Included is Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department logo.