Pierce County to open COVID test site at state fairgrounds as demand surges

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Responding to increasing demand for COVID-19 testing and a lack of room to accommodate those flocking to test sites, Pierce County is opening an additional place to get tested starting Monday.

The temporary drive-through site will be open through Jan. 7 in Puyallup at the Washington State Fair grounds Gold Lot located at 110 9th Ave. SW. Tests are free and appointments are not required.

Rapid tests will not be available at the site. Results will be available in three to five days. The site will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the week.

The opening follows a week where high demand for COVID tests met cold temperatures and snowy weather that forced Pierce County Emergency Management to close testing sites Thursday in Lakewood and Tacoma. Earlier in the week, the weather forced the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to temporarily close several of its testing sites.

When testing sites were open, staff could hardly keep up. Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Mike Halliday said the Lakewood site at 3003 107th St. S. was closed for two hours Wednesday due to overwhelming demand.

“It just became an issue of safety for both the folks coming to the site and site staff,” Halliday said.

That site tested about 1,100 people Wednesday, down from more than 1,500 Tuesday. Halliday said the two-hour closure was part of the reason for the dip in tests.

The new testing site has more room to handle a large volume of people thanks to its larger parking lot, Halliday said. He hopes the site will provide some relief for other testing sites seeing increases in traffic.

The Puyallup Tribe site at 2024 E. 29th St. in Tacoma and the Lakewood site are closed Saturday, but the Lakewood site will reopen starting Sunday. The Puyallup Tribe site reopens Wednesday.

Halliday asked people to be patient with staff and one another. Staff have been working as hard as they can, sometimes in difficult weather conditions, he said.

“We’re all trying to get the same thing,” he said. “We’re all trying to get tested so we can keep ourselves and our family and friends and community safe, so just be patient and be kind to each other.”

This story was originally published by The News Tribune.