Free COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms will be offered in Klawock starting this weekend. The tests will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center parking lot in the Prince of Wales Island community.

Test-takers will collect the sample themselves, and participants can expect results back in around seven to 10 days. Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium spokeswoman Maegan Bosak says they are self-swab nasal collection tests, in which participants insert a swab into their nostrils. 

“I’ve experienced the test many times and it’s not uncomfortable,” Bosak said.

While testing is available throughout the week to anyone exhibiting symptoms, these tests will be available to those without any signs of illness. The asymptomatic testing is part of a larger initiative by the tribal health provider  across the region. It began on July 11 in Juneau, Sitka and Wrangell, and is expanding to Klawock and Haines on Saturday. 

Bosak said over 400 people came for asymptomatic testing last weekend at Juneau, Sitka and Wrangell combined. The tribal health consortium says it plans to announce more testing locations later this month.

The testing comes as COVID-19 cases rise across the country, including in Alaska. Since the start of the pandemic, the Health Consortium has reported one positive case at its Klawock facility. It’s reported more than 40 cases in Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Haines, Klawock and Gustavus combined since the start of the pandemic.

SEARHC says the asymptomatic testing comes as part of an effort to track cases that would otherwise go undetected.

Funding is through a grant from Indian Health Services. SEARHC says it’s hiring temporary workers at testing sites from now through December.

More information is available from SEARHC’s COVID-19 hotline at 966-8799.