CBJ begins drive-thru testing for COVID-19

    CCFR Fire Chief Rich Etheridge.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Officials expect to handle 10 cases per day for the first week with the ability to expand to 32 tests per day after that.

    The number of tests administered will depend on the number of test kits available.

    Fire Chief Rich Etheridge said there are likely between 600 and 1,000 kits in Juneau, but that number has not been confirmed.

    To get tested you must call the hotline at 907-586-6000.   The call center is open from noon to 6 pm. The facility is located at the Hagevig Fire Training Facility at 2601 Sherwood Lane.  It will be open from 3-7 pm Monday thru Friday.

    Etheridge said the Cares Program has hired people to help with transportation needs.  They also hope to expand to be able to go to peoples homes to test them.

    Etheridge said they are working to determine who needs to be tested but are unable to drive or get to the facility themselves.

    It will be a simple process.  People never have to leave their vehicles.  They pull in to the center, fill out some forms, and then sit in the vehicle as a sample is collected.  It is placed into a test tube, then a sanitary bag and refrigerated.  It then is transported to Bartlett Hospital and then onto a laboratory, either state or private, for testing.

    "It is absolutely safe. I have our hazardous materials team running this.  I have every confidence it will be a clean and safe operation," Etheridge added.

    Coordinator Joe Mischler said they are treating it like a hazardous materials response.  He said all the areas of the testing site are highly controlled and kept apart.  He said the attendees, paramedics, and all staff will not be in close contact.  He added all CDC guidelines will be followed.

    He said the goal is to keep these patients out of the emergency room and urgent care and take the load off those facilities.

    Chief Etheridge said his department recently received a donation of 595 masks from an anonymous donor. 

    "I'm really excited that we are able to do this for the community.  There was not a lot of room for other agencies to take this on.  We stepped in, worked with other medical providers, and we set this up and will manage it."

    He said his employees still need protective gowns and masks.

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