Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium ends free COVID-19 testing in Juneau for people without symptoms

Juneau’s SEARHC campus. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, is no longer offering free COVID-19 testing for people who don’t have symptoms of the virus in Juneau. 

SEARHC began offering weekend testing clinics in July thanks to a grant from Indian Health Services. Now, that funding has run out. 

While free asymptomatic testing ended in Juneau and Sitka, SEARHC will continue providing limited free testing in other Southeast communities until Dec. 19.

Asymptomatic people can still request a test through SEARHC but will have to pay $145 out of pocket at the appointment.

People with symptoms or who are close contacts of positive cases can call to schedule tests and will not be charged. 

“Due to the demand for testing, grant funds have been depleted,” SEARHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl said in a press release. “By prioritizing symptomatic patients, we will be able to ensure those who must have a test have access to them. We encourage all patients to continue utilizing free, asymptomatic testing clinics in participating communities until the program sunsets.”

The City and Borough of Juneau’s testing site only performs asymptomatic tests for people undergoing medical procedures. Testing at the Juneau International Airport is reserved for those returning from travel outside the community. 

Otherwise, people experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing can call the city’s COVID-19 screening hotline to schedule a free test. 

According to city data, most results are taking an average of two to six days to return.  

Several other clinics in Juneau offer asymptomatic testing paid for through insurance or out of pocket.