Public Health kicks off free daily COVID mass testing

DPHSS COVID-19 testing (PNC file photo)

As the governor continues to push the island to lower its CAR score, Public Health is hoping more and more people will take advantage of free testing for COVID-19.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services, in partnership with other government agencies, kicked off mass testing in three locations — the Yigo Gym, Tiyan Field, and the Agat Senior Center.

Public Health will be able to test 200 people per day at each location for the remainder of the week.

On Saturday, they’ll be able to test 300 people at each location.

Testing will be done using Abbot Binax Now test kits, which are much faster than the PCR testing system. Results will only take 15 minutes.

People who’ve been tested can park their car on the side and wait for Public Health personnel to walk up and show them their results.

Results are not given verbally so that they’ll remain confidential.

Public Health spokesperson Grace Bordallo says that increasing the rate of testing is a key component of the island’s fight against the pandemic.

“Isolating..testing..and contact tracing are all important so that we can quickly test and find out their results. And if they’re positive, then they can quickly isolate and not have any spread within their household or in the community. So it’s really important to test..and to isolate..and quarantine..and to contact trace,” Bordallo said.

Bordallo says that the island’s limited testing capacity early in the pandemic hindered the effectiveness of its response.

But with more testing resources, the island’s ability to manage the virus has been improved significantly, especially now that Guam has enough resources to test people who don’t show symptoms.

“The whole point of testing is so you can isolate quickly. And we just weren’t able to give the results as quickly as possible. So now we are managing it more. We have more resources, more test kits, and you don’t need symptoms. People can come here to be tested. So we realized … the United States realized … that the asymptomatic people could be the silent spreaders. So as we get more test kits, we can test more people and I think that’s good for our community and good for the United States,” Bordallo said.

Testing is scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon every day this week except for Saturday. On Saturday, testing will be held from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.