Updated on Jan. 12, 2021.
An omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 cases is gripping Alaska. And in Anchorage, many residents have recently reported trouble getting tested.
Officials and private vendors say they are working hard to set up more locations and add hours to ease the burden, but wait times can be as long as several hours at most testing sites.
While there’s no avoiding a wait, here are a few tips that can help you save some time.
– Check the city’s website: While it’s not perfect, the AnchorageCOVIDTest.org website is your best bet for up-to-date information, including details on at-home rapid test kits. Capstone Clinic, the main tester in Anchorage, is also posting daily updates with predicted wait times on its Facebook page.
-Arrive early: Lines are generally shorter at opening time, which range from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. depending on the site. Plus, if you arrive on the early side, you avoid the risk of waiting for hours and having the site close before it’s your turn.
-Try smaller sites: The Alaska Airlines Center — the longest-running and highest-profile test site in Anchorage — has been reporting wait times of more than two hours in recent days. Meanwhile, a site on C Street (which replaced the previous site at the Loussac Library) was reporting lines of about an hour as of Monday, Jan. 10. There are also several smaller private clinics where you can get a free COVID test, even if you don’t have insurance. (More details on specific locations below.)
-Take advantage of targeted testing: If you’re a beneficiary or employee of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium or Southcentral Foundation — or a household member of an employee or beneficiary — you can get tested at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The Anchorage School District also has several walk-in test sites for students, staff and household members, but only if you are symptomatic or were a close contact. Find locations here.
-Get an at-home test kit: The city is out of test kits right now, but officials say they hope to get more in soon. Check back on AnchorageCOVIDTest.org for information about where the free test kits are being distributed. If you’re lucky, you might be able to snag one from a local pharmacy for about $30, though they’ve been selling out quickly. They’re not quite as accurate as lab tests, but if you take the two tests that come in the kit at least 24-hours apart, experts say they’re highly effective at catching cases of COVID. If you get a positive test, it’s recommended you isolate and confirm it with a lab test.
Here’s a list of sites with some specific information:
Alaska Airlines Center: The state-run Alaska Airline Center has been one of the busiest test sites in town in recent days, with lines of more than 50 cars at times. It might be best to make this site a last resort.
Address: 3550 Providence Dr.
Capstone at C Street: This site has gotten a lot more traffic in the last few days, but wait times have generally still been shorter than at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Address: 4810 C Street
Beacon at Tudor and Old Seward: Anchorage’s newest test option is another good choice for people with COVID symptoms or known exposure. Like the other sites, Beacon will bill your insurance first, but the tests are free even without insurance. You can drive to their location next to Home Depot, fill out the online form and wait until you’re called up to a parking spot in front of the building. Staff say that demand has picked up substantially since it opened, so expect up to an hour and a half wait time.
Address: 701 E. Tudor Rd
Walgreens: There’s a handful of Walgreens locations around Anchorage, making it a convenient option for some. But note: You need to schedule an appointment, often days in advance. On Thursday, there were no appointments available at any Anchorage location until next week.
Address: Various. Make an appointment online here.
Alaska Park: Alaska Park has walk-in testing for asymptomatic residents, and has had shorter wait times than most other test sites over the past few days. If you are symptomatic, you can call 907-694-9567 and staff will come out and test you in a parked vehicle. The site announced it will be open 24 hours a day beginning on Monday, Jan. 17 at 7 a.m.
Address: 5000 Spenard Rd.
Changepoint Church: Another long-running but busy location. Wait times on Monday, Jan. 10, were reportedly as long as three hours.
Address: 6689 Changepoint Dr.
Mountain View Urgent Care: The clinic in Mountain View has free walk-up tests available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Address: 3521 Mountain View Dr.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport: Testing is behind security, near the Starbucks. It’s scheduled to end Jan. 31.
Address: 5000 W International Airport Rd.