PHOENIX - Widespread testing for the evergrowing coronavirus began Saturday in Arizona by way of a "testing blitz."
The blitz will be used to catch up on diagnosing people and better understand data that has yet to be collected about those infected with the virus.
FOX 10's Justin Lum visited one of the few Banner Health's testing sites in the state.
For the next few weekends, it's an improved chance to track COVID-19 in Arizona.
Dozens of health care providers are joining the COVID-19 testing blitz and for the next few weekends you'll see sites with visitors ready to be tested.
There are now four sites in the Phoenix metro area, another in Tucson, and a thousand appointments were booked for Saturday, said Banner Health spokesperson Becky Armendariz.
“Monday through Saturday we’re able to test 12,000 Arizonans so if you look out three weeks from now that’s over 30-thousand, that’s half the goal that the governor and the health department have set," she explained.
The goal is to reach 60,000 by the end of the next three weeks. Arizona is one of the lowest testing states per capita in the country.
“We’re not doing antibody testing," Armendariz said. "Antibody testing would determine if someone has antibodies built up which would indicate possible past infection that has evolved, but we're not doing that.”
Overall, this is a ramped up statewide effort to gather as much data on COVID-19 quickly.
Armendariz says Banner Health will decide if those who call and get screened will be booked but the good news, more testing kits are available.
The next few weeks are crucial. "We can’t really predict those trends if we don’t have good data and enough data to support them and so with the additional capacity and testing, it will significantly help us in that regard," Armendariz said.
In a news release, Coconino County said they conducted 287 tests during the first Saturday of the blitz. Of the 287, 138 specimens were collected at the Coconino County Health and Human Services location on King Street in Flagstaff and the remaining 149 were collected at Fort Tuthill County Park.
If you'd like to call Banner Health and get screened for a test, call 1-844-549-1851. Click here for more information on the testing blitz.