The SEARHC testing for COVID-10 takes place in the parking lot at 202 Gjoa St. (Photo/Google Maps

Asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 in Petersburg is done, for the most part. The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC announced that it is closing down its asymptomatic testing next month to focus more on symptomatic testing in its network.

The last day for asymptomatic testing with SEARHC will be Saturday, December 19. Until then, testing will be only one day a week—on Saturdays.

SEARHC had been offering free testing on Saturdays and Sundays in Petersburg since the beginning of October. Anybody who wanted a test could get one. The samples were sent out of town and people were notified by email and phone of their results about a week later.

Besides Petersburg, SEARHC was providing asymptomatic testing to 13 other Southeast communities. All of them are closing down their asymptomatic testing as well. In some places, symptomatic testing will continue on a limited basis by referral only.

The asymptomatic testing program was funded through a grant from the Indian Health Service.  According to a press release, the demand for testing was so great that the grant funds became depleted. By ending asymptomatic testing, SEARHC can focus on testing people with symptoms in a timely manner, the statement said.

SEARHC would not return requests for comment by phone and email.

Petersburg residents with symptoms can get free COVID testing through the Petersburg Medical Center by calling its COVID hotline at 772-5788. People traveling to town can also get testing through PMC.