Seven communities in Southeast will be able to administer “rapid” COVID-19 testing, according to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC. Test results take just 15 minutes, compared to the 24 to 48 hours required to ship and process conventional tests in state labs. Manufacturer Abbott created and produces the machines.

Sitka, Juneau, Wrangell, Klawock, Haines, Hoonah and Kake will have a rapid testing machine at their clinics and hospitals by the end of this week.

SEARHC spokeswoman Maegan Bosak says these tests can help prevent the spread of the virus. 

“And allow those folks to have the knowledge of whether they’re positive or not and isolate as needed,” she says.

Each community will receive supplies for 45 tests. Bosak says that means not everyone will receive a rapid test. Those are saved for particular patients, those at high risk of serious health complications if they contract the virus and the people that live with or care for them.

“The test can be used to help folks that are close to them or that fall into that group have those results faster to isolate themselves as to not infect others,” Bosak says.

She says long-term care facilities and other group living situations with elders would take priority along with these operations’ caretakers.

Consortium-wide, SEARHC has tested 419 patients as of Tuesday. Of those, three have been positive and 35 results are pending.