Wrangell’s Medical Center, September 2020.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

Wrangell’s free asymptomatic community COVID-19 testing is tapering off earlier than planned. 

In fact, that’s the case all over the SEARHC coverage area. 

In Wrangell, free asymptomatic community testing used to be available every Saturday and Sunday. But starting this weekend, testing will only be available on Saturdays. And that’s until December 19, when free testing could cease altogether. 

SEARHC also serves many other Southeast Alaska communities, many of which are also ending or dialing back free testing for people not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

The community asymptomatic testing was originally announced by SEARHC as a program that would continue until the end of the year. The program began in July in Juneau, Wrangell, and Sitka. It later expanded to other smaller Southeast communities, including Haines, Klawock, Angoon, Gustavus, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Klukwan, Petersburg, Pelican, and Skagway.

The program was funded by a grant from Indian Health Services, but SEARHC announced earlier this month that funding was gone. 

SEARHC ended free asymptomatic testing in both Sitka and Juneau this month. Patients without symptoms or a medical referral are now billed $145 for a test.

SEARHC has not said whether there are plans to begin charging for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in Wrangell after the free Saturday program ends December 19.

Get in touch with KSTK at news@kstk.org or (907) 874-2345.