The demand for COVID tests has risen sharply for the first time in months. Many more people will also test positive for COVID, with most cases being caused by the delta variant.
The surge in demand also leads to a slower processing time for the test results at some locations. The City of Seattle website states: “We are currently experiencing longer processing times than usual, which will last until the weekend. Expect results in 24-48 hours. “
KIRO7 reached out to UW Medicine and Kaiser Permanente, who both said there were no delays in turnaround time. However, Curative, the city-affiliated test option for the walk-up kiosk, says test results are slower.
The Curative website states, “Please note that due to the high sample volume, results may not be available until 2 or more days after they arrive at the laboratory.” Curative emails test swabs to be processed in a Los Angeles laboratory.
Green is the delta variant. 📈
This data from @UWVirology breaks down COVID by exposure in WA. #deltavariant was next to nothing in May and now accounts for 78% of cases. (73% in King County, 81% in Snohomish, 85% in Yakima).
People with symptoms also lead to an increase in test demand. pic.twitter.com/iUx8iKZasb
– Deedee Sun (@ DeedeeKIRO7) July 22, 2021
UW Medicine and Kaiser Permanente both say more people with symptoms are driving the rise in tests.
“Sore throat, cough,” said Michael Fernstrom, who received a test at the Seattle Fire Department’s sodo testing site. “Just in case it’s not a cold – stay safe and keep people healthy,” he said.
The tests from the sodo site are processed in the laboratories of UW Medicine. Data from the virology labs show that around 50 positive cases were seen daily at the end of June. But on Tuesday (July 20), the lab tested nearly 300 positive cases (out of more than 6,500 tests).
Dr. Avantika Waring of Kaiser Permanente in Washington said they see requests for symptomatic tests increase by about 50%.
“We’re definitely seeing more with the Delta variant,” said Waring.
Data from UW Virology shows which strains of COVID make people sick. Between April and July, the Delta variant (in green) quickly overtook all other variants and now makes up 78% of the cases in Washington for reporting areas.
The Delta variant accounted for 72.5% of cases in King County and 80.9% of cases in Snohomish County for the week of July 4.
But there’s another reason the increase in people wanting to get tested – masks have fallen off and other viruses are finding their way.
“People are going out more now, catching colds and other viruses and wanting to rule out COVID,” said Captain Duncan Jewell of the Seattle Fire Department.
Dr. Waring said it was hard to tell if there was a cold floating around or if people with colds just got sick in the normal course of business.
“Now that people take off their masks and get together, we’re going to see more broadcasts of the common colds and things,” Waring said.
Doctors say that they keep a close eye on trends with the Delta variant.
“Would you recommend that people who have been vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors?” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked Waring.
“Although we still understand what is happening here, it would be advisable to put the mask on while you are inside,” said Waring.
Positive cases are up to 4.3%, down from 1% about a month ago for tests performed in the UW Virology labs in the UW Medicine Department of Laboratory Medicine. In east Washington, like Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties, nearly 20% of cases are positive.
© 2021 Cox Media Group