Spokane’s COVID-19 testing decreasing, Regional Health still confident in other data

SPOKANE, Wash.– For months now, health experts in the U.S. have said widely-available testing is the key to ending this pandemic.

But here in Spokane County, testing is actually decreasing.

“That testing volume does seem to be down, and there’s really no good explanation for why,” Dr. Lutz of Spokane Regional Health said.

Local labs and hospitals still have enough testing capacity.

That also isn’t stopping Lutz and other health experts from feeling optimistic about the latest health trends.

This is because the rate of tests coming back positive in the Spokane County is on the decline. About 8.5 percent of tests done in the county over the last two weeks have come back negative, a critical drop off from the double-digit percentages seen in July.

“Those things support that there might indeed be less disease in the community,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said.

COVID-related hospital visits are also on the decline in Spokane as 50 people are currently being treated for the virus, despite the opposite trend in nearby North Idaho.

“Kootenai [Health] is still a bit of an outlier,” Lutz said. “They’re still having a number of hospitalizations over there, but our hospitalization rate is definitely going down, which is encouraging.”

The CDC has also changed its guidance for COVID-19 testing, saying people who have been exposed to the virus, but are not symptomatic, no longer need to get tested.

The accuracy of testing is one reason for the change.

This is a full reversal of the guidance issued from the CDC over the last few months.

RELATED: WA Dept of Health still wants people with symptoms or close contact to get tested for COVID-19

In the end, it’s only a recommendation and several states, including Washington, said they won’t follow it.

They believe testing asymptomatic people prevents them from unknowingly spreading COVID-19.