Coronavirus efforts are being focused on distancing measures rather than lab tests

Mar 4 2020, 3:20 pm

According to Director of Public Health, Patty Hayes, because coronavirus is so new, King County will be focusing their efforts on distancing measures, rather than mass testing — even though the federal government has finally relaxed the criteria for those who can be tested for coronavirus.

The county is pushing residents to comply with three distancing measures: telecommuting if possible, canceling any large meetings, and staying home as much as possible in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, Washington’s current case count of COVID-19 lies at 31 cases and nine deaths. These figures include 10 new cases and one new fatality.

Although King County officials believe that 80% of cases are non-threatening and don’t need to be tested, they’ve purchased new lab equipment and have quadrupled laboratory staff in the hopes of raising their testing capacity.

The public health lab in Shoreline currently has the capacity to test 200 specimens a day, amounting to 100 people a day. Since the first day of testing last Friday, only 209 samples have been processed.

Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin reminded folks that “COVID-19 can cause severe disease but the vast majority of people don’t require care” and should call their health care providers rather than visiting clinics or hospitals in-person.

To keep the ill quarantined, the county has confirmed the purchase of a motel in Kent which will be used to house those with COVID-19. It was also revealed during the press conference that modular units have been placed by White Center due to the fact that King County owns the land, they can expedite construction, and it is in close access to utilities. The county is continuing to site locations for additional modular units, including North Seattle and Interbay.