Starting Monday, Anchorage will have a 24-hour COVID-19 testing site while additional testing locations could be on the way, according to a major testing provider.
Capstone Clinic, a health care company based in Wasilla that operates several testing sites in Anchorage, is expanding hours at its Alaska Park testing site to 24/7 operations beginning Monday, according to CEO Dennis Spencer.
The Alaska Park site will open at its usual time — 7 a.m. — on Monday and will remain open around the clock after that, Spencer said Tuesday.
The location at 5000 Spenard Road is indoors, but a note on the city’s testing website says that symptomatic individuals seeking testing should park, remain in their car and call 907-694-9567 to have someone come out to them.
In recent days, Anchorage has been plagued by long lines and confusion over COVID-19 testing site operations — all of which has been aggravated by rising demand for testing amid a virus surge tied to the ultra-transmissible omicron variant.
The Anchorage Health Department, which until recently had contracted with a provider to offer testing in the municipality, no longer oversees or controls testing operations. Instead, sites are run by private companies, though health department director Joe Gerace said that the city does coordinate with private entities, sharing data and suggesting where testing locations might go.
Testing demand was relatively low at the time the city privatized operations. But the situation has changed rapidly, and Spencer said demand for Capstone testing has tripled since December.
That steep rise in demand is leading to long waits for testing at their locations.
“It’s simply a matter of volume,” Spencer said. “That’s what the problem is.”
Spencer said Capstone will hire 20 additional staff by the end of the week, and Capstone has contracted with a construction company to help manage traffic flow.
The company is also working to expand testing in Muldoon and is in “early discussions” to provide a testing site in South Anchorage, according to Spencer. Additionally, he said Capstone is finalizing discussions surrounding the relocation of its testing site in Eagle River to a previous location used by former city contractor Visit Healthcare to conduct testing.
Spencer recommended that people seeking tests in Anchorage be prepared to wait two or three hours. Daily updates about the status of Capstone’s testing sites are being posted on its Facebook page.
Officials have also encouraged people to look beyond drive-thru testing sites and seek other options like primary care providers, pharmacies or tests where people can self-administer a swab and send their sample to a lab.
Information about COVID-19 testing around Anchorage more broadly is available at anchoragecovidtest.org. A city spokesman said that website will be updated as more locations open.