Health clinics, pharmacies busy with people needing COVID tests

SPOKANE, Wash. — It could get harder for some people to get their hands on a COVID-19 test. Health providers are working to keep up with the demand in testing as COVID spreads in the community once again.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 330 people testing positive for COVID Friday. There are people who can’t get a test, depending on where they go.

Health care providers are busy with testing again, but the difference this time compared to others: there is no mass testing site. So, health clinics and pharmacies are picking that up.

Health care leaders say people may have to wait a little longer to get their test and results may take longer to get back to them.

“We’re in a different place than we were in the beginning of the pandemic. We have adequate testing supplies. But, like many places in the country, we are facing some staffing shortages in the health care world,” said Dr. Jessica McHugh, the primary care medical director with the MultiCare Rockwood Clinic.

With staff strains and a surge, it’s getting difficult to keep up.

The MultiCare Rockwood Clinic says it’s nearly doubled the amount of COVID testing from last month to this month. McHugh says last month, the Rockwood clinics tested about 29 people per day. This month, they’re testing about 54 people a day.

CHAS Health is seeing a surge, too. In July, the health care clinics tested about 200 people per week in its clinics. In early August, it jumped to about an average of 500 people getting tested per week.

A spokesperson says they’re testing as many as 200 people per day now.

People can no longer walk into a CHAS clinic to get tested because of the increase in demand.  The clinic says it’s only testing people who are established patients or people who are directed to CHAS by their insurance.

Providence, Kaiser Permanente and MultiCare aren’t at the point they have to turn people away, but they are busy, and it could get worse.

“Can’t emphasize enough the importance of continuing to mask and getting vaccinated,” McHugh said. “We really want to do our part so we can keep our hospital resources available for patients who need it.”

As of now, Spokane Regional Health District interim health officer Dr. Frank Velazquez says there are no plans to open a mass testing site. He added that there’s enough testing capacity to go without one.

As schools open back up in a few weeks, some districts will be able to test students, their families and the community if needed.

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