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Free coronavirus testing program begins in Las Vegas area

August 31, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Health officials in Las Vegas are launching a drive-thru coronavirus testing blitz, with help from the federal government and a goal of reaching 60,000 people.

The “surge testing” event arrives as Nevada nears 70,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. Health officials reported 320 additional confirmed cases and three additional deaths on Monday, bringing the statewide totals to 69,223 cases and 1,305 deaths. About 86% of both cases and deaths have been in the Las Vegas area.

Appointments are not required but are encouraged at three “Stop, Swab & Go” sites that opened Monday at the Fiesta hotel-casino in Henderson, Texas Station hotel-casino in North Las Vegas, and Sam Boyd Stadium in southeast Las Vegas.

Tests are free and no proof of health insurance or identification is required.

Officials in Clark County announced last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would underwrite the testing surge, through Sept. 18. The program is designed for virus hot spots and has been used in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

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The number of people tested in Nevada has gradually fallen over the summer, but Dr. Julia Peek, Deputy Administrator of Nevada’s Community Health Services department, said health officials didn’t expect more testing to inflate the state’s positivity rate, which remains above 10%.

“We’re already testing greater than what’s recommended in our communities and so I think what we have is a running positivity rate in the community that is pretty realistic,” Peek said. “It depends on which 60,000 people go get tested, but we think that the positivity rate will remain.”

Testing will be conducted 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, with self-administered nasal swabs. All three locations will be closed on Labor Day.

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Appointments can be made online at www.DoINeedaCOVID19Test.com.