Mina Sanders, a COVID tester with Capstone Clinic, readies for the next group of arrivals at Juneau International Airport on Jan. 31, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Mina Sanders, a COVID tester with Capstone Clinic, readies for the next group of arrivals at Juneau International Airport on Jan. 31, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Airport COVID testing ends as contract runs out

The company will still provide vaccines at the airport for another six months.

COVID testing at the Juneau International Airport by Capstone Clinic has ended as of Jan. 31, as the organization relocates its testing site next to Alaska Industrial Hardware.

The city appreciates Capstone’s hard work over the one-year contract, said Deputy City Manager Robert Barr.

“It certainly has been convenient for the public to test at the airport,” Barr said in a phone interview. “Capstone, while not testing at the airport, will still be offering testing in town.”

[Report: 61% of Alaskans live in child care deserts]

From the point of view of incubation times, Barr said, it’s not illogical to relocate the testing center. The airport testing center has provided anywhere from hundreds to more than a thousand tests per week for the last several weeks but with the relocation, not elimination, of the Capstone testing center, Barr said he doesn’t expect any serious increase in demand on other testing centers.

“From a COVID perspective it kind of makes sense,” Barr said. “The best time to test is five or so days after getting back into town.”

While incubation times are slightly shortened for the omicron variant, Barr said, a 3-5 day incubation period is still the norm, with the city recommending erring toward waiting five days to get tested. While travelers might not necessarily be exposed on a plane, Barr said, the act of traveling leads to some activities that increase risk of catching the disease.

“Generally, people when they have to go through airports or eat out or do the sort of activities you do when you travel have a higher rate of exposure,” Barr said.

Capstone has the contract for a year, said the organization’s Southeast regional manager, Delcie Helmke in an interview. Many of the testers working for Capstone came over from Capital City Fire/Rescue, who previously ran the testing site, Helmke said.

“Capstone has been here since Feb. 1, 2021,” Helmke said in an interview. “All of us were pretty seasoned.”

While Capstone is relocating its testing center a block away, the organization will continue to provide another service at the airport, Helmke said.

“We’re still remaining here for vaccines,” Helmke said. “We have a six-month contract for that.”

Barr said the airport vaccination site’s hours are convenient, and that the site has provided between 75-150 vaccinations of all stripes — initial injections and boosters – over the last several weeks.

Running the testing site has been customer-service heavy, Helmke said, but not terribly full of surprises, who herself spent two years working at the testing site of the airport, first for CCFR, and then for Capstone.

“We went with the flow. All of us were pretty seasoned,” Helmke said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

The Capstone Clinic is relocating from the airport to adjacent to AIH, but that’s hardly the only option for getting tested in Juneau. CCFR’s drive-through testing center at the Hagevig Training Facility, as well as SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium testing sites and private providers, will continue to offer testing, according to City and Borough of Juneau.

Other testing options

There are multiple testing options in Juneau. All tests are free unless specifically otherwise noted, though organizations may take down one’s insurance information.

CBJ’s Drive-Thru testing facility- Hagevig Fire Training Center, 2601 Sherwood Lane

Drive through from Register online at CBJ’s website or call 907-586-6000 for an appointment

Capstone Clinic, 9131 Glacier Highway, Suite 103

Drive-up only 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days a week. Call. 907-694-9523 option 2 and a tester will come out.

SEARHC’s Ethel Lund Medical Center, 1200 Salmon Creek Lane

Call 907-364-4451 to schedule a test

SEARHC’s Mountainside Urgent Care Clinic, 3225 Hospital Drive, Suite 102

Walk-in testing only from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days a week, call ahead at 907-463-6677.

Juneau Urgent & Family Care, 8505 Old Dairy Road

Call 907-790-4111 or make an appointment online.

Depending on type of test and insurance status, cost ranges from free to $275

Private provider/clinic

Contact your health provider and ask if their office provides COVID-19 testing and what the parameters are for getting tested

Self-testing

The city is also distributing self-test kits, being distributed at the City Hall cash office, all three Juneau public libraries, the Juneau Public Health Center, and at the Juneau Police Department. The self-test kits have a shelf life should ensure their viability until June 30, 2022 according to the news release.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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