ADPH: County health departments, community health centers are best options for affordable COVID-19 testing

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NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 12: Spc. Demetrie Barnett of the Nevada National Guard administers a COVID-19 test during a preview of a free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in the parking garage of the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel on November 12, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The site will open on November 13 amid increased demand for testing due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state. Over the past two weeks, Nevada has averaged close to 1,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with a 13.7 percent test positivity rate. Clark County is partnering with the Southern Nevada Health District, Nevada National Guard, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, city of North Las Vegas and Station Casinos, which owns the property, to open the site. Texas Station has been closed since mid-March because of the pandemic. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In March when COVID-19 surfaced in Alabama, experts advised against testing unless someone showed symptoms or had directly been exposed. But that changed as more widespread testing options became available.

Now the challenge for some isn’t finding a testing site, it’s affording the test — especially if you don’t have insurance.

Alabama is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and thousands of people are getting tested on a daily basis. While some are fully covered by insurance, others stand the chance of running up a bill depending on where they get tested, and that bill can range from $20 to a few hundred dollars out of pocket.

“The cost is related to the individual facility, you know, what they are charging as well as you know what person’s insurance or other coverage might pay,” said Alabama Department of Public Health Spokesperson Dr. Karen Landers.

News 19 asked Landers her recommendations for low-income or uninsured people who want to know their status.

“If a person is unable to pay a fee for a COVID test, there are rural health centers and community health centers that do provide free testing for COVID-19,” she said.

But Landers said county health departments are your most reliable bet for free testing, even if it’s not the county where you live.

“The surrounding county health departments, the ones that surround Madison, for example, Morgan County, Limestone County, Jackson County, and Marshall County. Find out the days that those counties are doing the free specimen collection for PCR for COVID-19 testing,” said Landers.

PCR testing, or the nasal swab test, is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. Landers said other options may be less sensitive.

If you have plans to gather with extended friends and family for the holiday, despite CDC and ADPH guidance, health officials suggest you get tested first. If you receive a negative result you should remain in quarantine until the holiday.

COVID-19 Testing resources:

Thrive Alabama
600 St. Clair Ave.
Huntsville AL 35801

The Salvation Army (Every Wednesday) 305 Seminole Dr. Huntsville AL 35805 (256) 536-8876

Morgan County Health Department (Every Tuesday until November 24) 3821 US-31 Decatur, AL 35603 256-353-7021

Marshall County Health Department (Every Tuesday until November 24) 150 Judy Smith Dr. Guntersville, AL 35976 (256) 582-3174

Testing sites subject to change, call ahead to verify service.

Call (888) 264-2256 to find COVID-19 testing sites near you.

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