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Another free COVID-19 testing site to open in Tucson
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Another free COVID-19 testing site to open in Tucson

Researchers at the ASU Biodesign Institute have developed Arizona’s first saliva test.

The Pima County Health Department, in conjunction with Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Health Services, will offer a free COVID-19 saliva test starting Wednesday.

The tests will be administered at the Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Hours this week for Wednesday, July 29, and Friday, July 31, will be from 3 to 7 p.m.

The county is hoping to administer 240 tests for every four-hour block, or upward of 400 tests a day, officials said. Registration is required at pima.gov/covid19testing.

The opening of the sites comes a few weeks after the county’s board of supervisors unanimously agreed to enter into a one-year, $2 million contract with ASU’s Biodesign Institute that allows the institute’s high-capacity labs to test samples from clinics in Pima County.

The money for the contract comes from a portion of the county’s $98.4 million in federal funding from the CARES Act.

“Testing must be done in a timely manner to allow the public and medical providers to identify, isolate and prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” Pima County Health Director Theresa Cullen said at the time. “Our community, like many across Arizona, continues to struggle to find the testing materials — the swabs, the transport media — and the people power needed to complete tests. ASU’s Biodesign Institute gives us another resource to meet our needs.”

Earlier this month, the county opened its first free testing site at the Kino Event Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way. Nasal swab tests are available by appointment 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. No walk-in testing will be done as registration is required at pima.gov/covid19testing.

Pima County has reported 15,109 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. There have been 418 known COVID-19 deaths in the Tucson area.

Contact reporter Justin Sayers at jsayers1@tucson.com or 573-4192.

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