Hundreds of people wait hours for COVID-19 drive-thru testing in Kootenai County

SPOKANE, Wash. — Concern over COVID-19 is increasing in North Idaho as hundreds of peopled tried to get tested for the virus Tuesday.

Lines of cars extended for blocks in Coeur d’Alene as people waited for hours to get their turn at the drive-thru testing clinic near Kootenai Health.

“We have seen a large increase in the need to be tested,” Andrea Nagel of Kootenai Health said. “About 5 times as much as what we were previously seeing.”

Many people tried getting to the site early so they could avoid waiting hours for the test, but that still didn’t help.

One man we spoke to say he showed up 15 minutes before the site opened at 10 a.m., but three hours later he still had at least 100 cars in front of him.

Another person in line was anxious for a COVID-19 test, and she said she’s been symptomatic for a couple days now. She also waited more than three hours for a test.

“I guess it is what it is,” she said. “I think there should be a little more streamlined process considering how rapid this is becoming.”

The increased demand for testing comes as the virus spreads rapidly in Kootenai County.

Another 30 people tested positive in north Idaho just over the last 24 hours.

Health officials said the increased infections are coming from people spending more time out in the community.

“People are out and about doing a lot more socializing,” Nagel said. “Frequenting local businesses, restaurants and probably not taking all the precautions necessary to stay safe.”

While the demand for testing is increasing, hospitals around the Panhandle remain in good shape.

PHD is reporting just one person currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Kootenai Health is planning for more busy days ahead with testing. Officials said they’re trying to increase staffing and may expand their hours, which are currently 10am-6pm.

They are also considering adding another testing site nearby.