Bozeman COVID-19 testing

A health worker conducts tests for COVID-19 on Monday at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.

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Veterans in Montana will be able to get free COVID-19 tests beginning this week, including in Bozeman.

The Montana VA Health Care System announced in a news release Monday that asymptomatic veterans will be eligible for free testing at 13 drive-through locations across the state. It’s part of the Montana State COVID Surveillance Project, an effort by Gov. Steve Bullock’s office and the Department of Public Health and Human Services to increase community testing, including for people who aren’t showing symptoms.

In Bozeman, testing will be held in the local VA clinic parking lot at 300 North Willson Ave., from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1. Participants will stay in their car while getting swabbed, and will get their results within 30 days, according to the news release. All visitors to a VA facility have to wear a face covering and will be provided one if needed.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department has advised people who get tested to self-quarantine while they await their results.

“This asymptomatic testing will help us understand how COVID-19 presents in Montana because often, only people with symptoms are tested. As always, we are grateful for the leadership veterans have shown in taking proactive steps to be healthy,” said Judy Hayman, director of the Montana VA Health Care System.

There are more than 47,000 veterans enrolled in the VA health care system in Montana, according to the news release.

That state has been testing asymptomatic people over the last month as part of the surveillance project, and has focused on long-term care facilities, tribal nations and gateway towns, like West Yellowstone and Gardiner. Before that, testing was available in Montana only for people who showed COVID-19 symptoms or had come in close contact with a confirmed case.

The increase in testing comes as Montana sees a spike in confirmed cases.

Free testing for veterans will also be available in Anaconda, Billings, Glasgow, Glendive, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Miles City, Missoula and Plentywood throughout July.

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Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2607.