FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Denali Borough previously had some of the lowest COVID-19 testing numbers in Alaska, and is looking to solve that by implementing free, community-wide testing.
The Borough began testing on Monday for those exhibiting symptoms, healthcare providers, seasonal workers, residents or anyone looking to be tested as supplies allow.
"We know testing is key to a successful reopening of the economy as the state has said," said Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker.
As of June 10, the Denali Borough has yet to see a confirmed positive case of COVID-19.
The Denali Borough includes Anderson, Clear, Healy, Cantwell and Denali Park among other communities.
The Borough is using the federal government's CARES Act to fully fund the testing facilities.
"Last Monday, speaking with our providers, there were a total of eight tests that had been performed," said Mayor Walker. "We were speaking with a healthcare professional over in Glennallen who had 85 and we thought, 'we need to get those numbers up.'"
However, an increased number of tests can result in an increased chance of a positive case. "Here we are June 10th and we haven't had a single positive confirmed test case here in the Denali Borough, one of the few counties in entire country without one. We don't anticipate that will happen much longer as our testing rate is going up significantly." added Mayor Walker.
Mayor Walker also says this new program will benefit those who are traveling from out of state and need a secondary COVID-19 test.
Health Mandate 10.1 issued by Governor Mike Dunleavy effective June 6 states, "The traveler [must produce] a molecular-based test for a SARS-CoV2 result showing that the traveler tested negative for COVID-19 within five days before departure to Alaska and the traveler obtains a second molecular-based test for SARS-CoV2 upon arrival in Alaska, and minimize interactions until the second test result is received and that test is also negative."
"We do feel like this a very timely program to support those potential visitors in need of that follow-up test that could be provided without any additional barriers here in the Denali Borough." said Walker.
Individuals looking to be tested must bring a valid photo identification and complete two testing forms upon arrival to the site and can the test can be done in a vehicle.
The test samples will be delivered to an Alaska State Public Health Lab and results will be shared with the patient and the Alaska Department of Public Health, according to the borough. Those who receive a positive test result will be contacted by the Alaska Department of Public Health regarding contact tracing.
Here are the COVID-19 Community Testing Centers locations and hours of operations, according to denaliborough.org.
-Testing by appointment is available by calling 907-750-4182 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Healy testing will be administered in the Parking Lot on the West Side of the Tri-Valley Community Center and will be available without an appointment on Mondays & Wednesdays from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
-McKinley Village testing will be administered in the Parking Lot of the McKinley Village Community Center and will be available without an appointment on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
-Cantwell tests are offered daily in Cantwell at the Native Village of Cantwell Community Center and can be arranged by calling Toni Suko, Village Health Aide with the Copper River Native Association, at 907-768-2122.
-Anderson testing will be administered in the Parking Lot of Anderson School and will be available without an appointment on Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
According to officials, priority will be made to test those "exhibiting symptoms, first responders, healthcare workers, those employed in critical infrastructure industries and those who have recently traveled."
Testing facilities will remain open in the Denali borough until further notice.
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