Surge in COVID cases spikes demand for testing

SPOKANE, Wash.–The demand for COVID-19 testing is on the rise and finding a test is getting harder.

There were 353 COVID cases were reported in Spokane County on Wednesday and 212 people are hospitalized with the virus.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, 22 people died in Spokane County in the last two weeks.

SRDH knows there’s a problem getting tests and health leaders say they’re trying to find solutions.

“I think we’re going to see demand testing increase over the next few months as many organizations and entities use testing in lieu of vaccination proof,” Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Dr. Frank Velasquez said.

There are currently three types of tests: clinical, community, and school-based.

The problem is the health department says it’s seeing a lot more people using clinical tests for community reasons such as travel, and events. Clinical tests are supposed to be for patients who are symptomatic or hospitalized for other reasons.

Testing in schools isn’t impacted by the demand because those tests come from a different supply chain.

SRHD says it requested the creation of a mass testing site but that’s not currently an option.

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“I think the biggest issue there is we’re not the only ones that have increased demand of testing, and as you know resources everywhere are pretty constrained, and one of the resources typically that people talk about is the National Guard, and our National Guard members have been deployed in a variety of places, so we don’t have that availability,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez says they’re talking with clinical providers to see if they can increase capacity, but that’s a struggle too because of staffing issues.

SRHD says it is also working with the department of health to get more people to take advantage of community-based testing sites.

If you need a test, here are some of the places still giving them out.

  • Rite Aid by appointment only at drive-through locations.
  • Walgreens and CVS by appointment only. However, Walgreens in Spokane were completely booked as of Wednesday.
  • CHAS has tests but until next week, they’re only for people who are already patients there.
  • Some Walmarts have them, but others don’t. You’ll have to check with the one you want.

Velasquez says if you’re asymptomatic or know that you’ve been exposed you should call your provider so that you get the appropriate testing.