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Pima County opens large new drive-thru COVID testing site

Its testing capacity stretched by the increase in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron wave, Pima County is opening a large new drive-thru testing site with help from the federal government.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding the site that will open Monday on the West Campus of Pima Community College on Tucson's west side.

Following a “soft launch" Saturday with limited capacity, the site will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The site is expected to administer between 1,000 and 2,000 free self-swab PCR tests daily.

Clinical services provider  eTrueNorth will conduct the testing, the county Health Department said in a statement announcing the site.

The county submitted its request for the federal site two weeks ago as the omicron variant and the resulting surge in COVID-19 cases used up the local testing capacity.

The county also plans to open another testing site, with funding from money allocated to the county under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Arizona on Saturday reported 55 additional COVID-19 deaths as the number of virus patients hospitalized decreased slightly after rising 19 of the 21 previous days. There were 3,370 patients occupying inpatient beds statewide as of Friday.

The state on Saturday reported 27,681 additional confirmed virus cases, a pandemic record one-day increase though many cases confirmed by home testing aren't reported to public health authorities. It was the sixth day this month that the state has reported over 20,000 additional cases on a single day.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.