Washington State University will soon help process COVID-19 tests

SPOKANE, Wash. – As more and more people get tested for COVID-19, labs are struggling to keep up with the demand.

Long wait times to get test results have been a problem across the nation, including here in Spokane. Thanks to a new partnership, people across Eastern Washington will now have easier access to those results.

There’s a lot that goes into testing samples for COVID-19. Imagine testing 800 of them every single day.

“We don’t really have any down time with as busy as we’ve been,” said Nathan Lumper, Molecular Technologist with Incyte Diagnostics.

For molecular technologists like Lumper, this has been a reality for several months.

“Our staff has been very tired and overwhelmed,” said Patty Sipes, CEO of Incyte Diagnostics.

Thanks to a new partnership with Washington State University, they now have additional help.

“We’ve essentially set up a human diagnostic lab within this other lab that exists,” said Phil Weiler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Washington State University.

Their lab which was previously used only for testing animals, is now testing human samples for COVID-19.

“How they have stepped up to meet that community need has been incredibly impressive,” said Sipes.

There’s a three step process that’s involved. First, Incyte Diagnostics will collect the samples from each patient. The samples will then be sent to the WSU laboratory in Pullman for testing. Once that’s done,  the results will be sent back to Incyte before being released to the patient.

“With the WSU partnership, by the end of the month, we should be at 4,000 tests a day that we could run through our system,” said Sipes.

Although it’s been a challenge for labs across the state, Lumper said helping the community is what makes it all worthwhile.

“I think it’s very fulfilling for all of us to be able to contribute to something like this,” said Lumper.

You’ll still need to go through your medical provider to get tested for COVID-19. As of right now, results are being processed as quickly as one to two days.

READ: Curbside COVID-19 testing underway at Spokane area schools 

READ: ‘Spokane is right on the verge of a very dire situation’: Inslee says as hospitalization rates rise