Omicron and holiday travel push the demand for COVID-19 testing

SPOKANE, Wash. – If you’re in need of a COVID-19 test, know that you may have to wait hours for one depending on where and when you go.

Demand is currently high for testing because of holiday travel, people gathering and the omicron variant spreading.

The number of people getting tested has doubled across the Inland Northwest over the holiday week.

“We’re definitely getting a lot of that traffic coming this way. We’re having record numbers across the state and here locally. Our scheduled appointments are at an all-time high,” said Hailey Normandin, the Spokane regional manager for Discovery Health. The health provider operates two of Spokane’s mass testing sites at the Spokane County Fairground and Expo Center and Spokane Falls Community College.

Candice Beazley was one of many waiting in line to get tested at SFCC Tuesday morning. She waited about 20 minutes in line before she got tested. SFCC was not her first stop in finding a test.

“I went to Walgreens and they were booked solid. They told me to come here,” she said.

Several providers are seeing an uptick in testing demand. Normandin says they tested more than 700 people between both places on Monday. Just two weeks ago, Discovery Health says it tested about 200 people on average.

Depending on when people go get tested at the mass testing sites, they could wait between 15 minutes or two hours. Normandin said they’re busier when they first open at 8 a.m. in Spokane Valley or 8:30 a.m. at SFCC. They’re also busier after work between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Normandin says because they’re so busy, they’re only allowing people with appointments to get tested after 4 p.m.

However, if you don’t want to wait in line, there are places you can get at-home testing kits.

Spokane County and city libraries are offering a mail-in testing kit through a partnership with the Spokane Regional Health District.

Pat Davis, the Argonne Library supervisor, says they’ve also seen an uptick in people grabbing the tests.

“I think most people, you know, have a pretty good idea where a library is. A lot of people are comfortable going to the library whereas maybe not so comfortable going to a health center,” Davis said.

North Idaho is also seeing a similar increase in demand for testing. The Panhandle Health District (PHD) says the number of tests ordered on Monday has doubled compared to last Monday.

Health experts say it is important to get tested, even if you think it’s a cold. It’s better to know you don’t have COVID rather than spreading it.

For more information on where you can get tested in North Idaho, click here.

For a list of where you can get tested in Spokane County, click here.

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