Arizona unveils 'testing blitz' to ramp up screening efforts

coronavirus testing
Arizona is unviling a "Testing Blitz" effort over three Saturdays from May 2-16. (Courtesy National Institutes of Health)

Arizona is unviling a "Testing Blitz" effort over three Saturdays from May 2-16. (Courtesy National Institutes of Health)

The Arizona Department of Health Services is sharply increasing its COVID-19 testing efforts with the launch of the “Arizona Testing Blitz,” Gov. Doug Ducey announced April 27.

Under the plan, Health Services aims to test between 10,000-20,000 residents for three consecutive Saturdays, beginning May 2.

Among the four Valley testing sites identified for May 2 will be one in Gilbert at Central Christian Church, 965 E. Germann Road, where Banner Health will be conducting tests. Other Valley sites are in Mesa, Phoenix and Peoria.

“Arizona has placed an emphasis on ramping up testing, but we need more,” Ducey said in a release. “As our health care partners develop a more reliable supply of testing materials, we’re working together to take testing availability to the next level. The Arizona Testing Blitz is just one step of many that will expand access to testing for Arizonans and provide us with better data to develop Arizona specific solutions and re-energize our economy.”

The testing sites will feature drive-thru or onsite testing available for anyone who thinks they have been exposed to the coronavirus. Each site will have testing criteria. More sites could be added.


Patients are asked to preregister by calling 844-549-1851. More information can be found at www.azhealth.gov/testingblitz.

Hours of operation May 2 will be 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the three suburban sites and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in Phoenix.

“We know that rapidly identifying cases, conducting case follow-up and performing contact tracing will help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities,” Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said in the release. “Success in these areas requires an increase in our testing capacity, and the Arizona Testing Blitz will help allow those who want to be tested, get tested.”

The Saturday tests are just one effort to increase testing of Arizonans. Among others:

  • Banner Health announced it will open a testing site at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1849 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix. The Phoenix collection site will be the health operation’s largest in its system.

  • Sonora Quest Laboratories began offering antibody testing April 24, with plans to conduct 1,000-3,000 tests initially and scaling up from there. Physicians can prescribe, collect and route COVID-19 antibody testing specimens to Sonora Quest for testing, or patients can schedule an appointment at one of more than 20 Sonora Quest Patient Service Centers that have dedicated resources for COVID-19 antibody testing collection. Appointments can be made at www.sonoraquest.com/antibody.

  • The University of Arizona received $3.5 million in funding from the state to provide COVID-19 antibody tests to 250,000 health care workers and first responders starting the week of April 27. The university will also provide testing to students and faculty.

  • Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute began drive-through testing earlier this month for first responders and hospital personnel.

  • Walgreens is offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing that allows individuals to test for the virus without leaving their vehicles.

By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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