Seattle will cease providing free coronavirus testing at facilities in West Seattle and Rainier Beach on March 31st to increase the spread of COVID-19 vaccines in those locations, the city said on Wednesday.
By converting both locations to vaccination alone, each location can vaccinate 1,500 people per day, up from the current 1,000 per day, according to the city.
At the same time, the demand for tests at the two locations fell, the city announced. West Seattle currently runs about 200 tests a day and Rainier Beach runs about 100 tests a day, according to the city.
Urban facilities manned by Seattle Fire Department workers have had more than 680,000 coronavirus tests run since they went live last summer. The Rainier Beach and West Seattle locations combined have performed approximately 160,000 of these tests.
The city will continue to operate drive-through inspection stations on Aurora Avenue and SoDo.
“Given the decline in test takers, I’m confident that moving our Rainier Beach and West Seattle locations to full-time vaccination centers is the right move,” Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said in a prepared statement. “This move will allow us to increase the number of people SFD can vaccinate on a daily basis, if supplies allow.”
Both the Rainier Beach and West Seattle locations are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The city also operates a mass vaccination clinic at the Lumen Field Event Center. It is currently open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Appointments are required at all locations. Eligible individuals can sign up to be notified when appointments are available at Seattle.gov/vaccine.
Currently eligible people include: people 65 years of age and older, educators and childcare workers, pregnant or disabled people, and critical high-risk workers including grocery retailers, transit operators, farm workers and law enforcement officers.
On March 31, people aged 60 and over as well as restaurant and construction workers will be admitted. Anyone 16 or older will be eligible no later than May 1, the office of Governor Jay Inslee said.