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Thu Dec 30, 2021, 07:05 PM Dec 2021

COVID-19 positivity rate soars near 50% at some Seattle-area testing sites, straining capacity

Seattle Times

UW Medicine will soon start limiting its COVID-19 testing appointments to include only those with symptoms or known exposures because of an “astronomically high” positivity rate that’s slowing the testing process, the health care system announced Thursday.

Of UW Medicine’s 12 community testing sites, nine will soon start limiting appointments. Three, however, including in Ballard, and at Seattle City Hall and Lake Sammamish State Park, will close temporarily.

The high positivity rate — measuring more than 40% at some South King County testing sites — is creating a challenge in UW Medicine’s testing process and slowing scientists’ ability to parse out which samples are actually positive, Dr. Geoff Baird, chair of laboratory medicine and pathology at UW Medicine, said in a news briefing Thursday morning.

UW scientists normally opt for a “pool testing” system — common throughout the country — to speed up the testing process, which means they take four or five samples from testing sites, extract a small portion of each, then mix them together in one vial for testing.

Question: does this scare off some people from testing because they’re worried about being in close proximity to likely infecteds?
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