COVID-19 testing demand significantly higher in Seattle over the last several weeks

Public health officials in Seattle said the demand for COVID-19 testing is significantly higher in the last several weeks and reaching is levels similar to last winter.

That demand is showing itself on Aurora Avenue at the UW Medicine testing site, where drivers are lined up at times for an hour to get tested for COVID-19.

"He said it was horrendous. Horrendous and very congested and it took a while. Took about an hour for him to get through," said MacKenzie Kermoade, whose brother got tested a day earlier. "We’re testing because we’re about to cross the Canadian border on Saturday. I’m moving up for my job."

There are many contributing factors, but the Vice Chair of Clinical Operations for the Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology believes the delta variant is the primary reason.

Patrick Mathias said the UW testing sites collected more than 47,000 samples in the past seven days.

"In the course of a couple of months, we have increased by three or four times the total amount of testing we’re doing on a daily basis," said Mathias. "A lot of this is really driven by the Delta variant and increased transmissibility that we see from the variant compared to the other previous variants."

The demand for testing is being seen across the state. 

"In August, DOH shipped out about as many test kits to our Washington partners as we had in the six previous months combined, and requests remain very high," said spokesperson Frank Ameduri.

"It’s very concerning. It just seems like if we could just all of us get our act together, do the masking, do the vaccination and just take care of the business of helping each other, it’d be better for everybody," said Darrell Waddell, Kermoade’s stepdad.

The Aurora testing site’s capacity is 2,000 tests a day, and Mathias said it’s getting close. 

Businesses up and down the testing site on Aurora Avenue have signs that say parking for COVID-19 testing is not permitted. 

"Leading into that location is very difficult because we’re on a busy street, so we actually are discussing adding some additional sites in the area," said Mathias.

"There really needs to be some way for all of these vehicles to park and consolidate this, because it’s blocking traffic and it’s congesting the highway so that’s going to be a problem," said Kermoade.

Health officials said if you’re showing symptoms or having a close contact who tested positive, make sure to go get tested. There are several testing locations across the region that have shorter wait times. You can find those locations here

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