Kitsap Public Health District: Not enough tests available to test those with COVID-19 symptoms in Kitsap County

Kitsap County does not have enough tests available to find out if Kitsap residents who are showing symptoms of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) actually have the virus, the board of the Kitsap Public Health District was told at a special meeting Tuesday.

“No matter what the publicity says … there are only limited testing capabilities at the state level and at private labs. There is not the ability to test everyone,” said Dr. Susan Turner, health officer for the Kitsap Public Health District.

Testing is being limited, mostly to the population most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, health care providers, and first responders and others.

“We know people are frustrated,” Turner said.

Even people who have symptoms are not being tested, she said.

“Testing is very limited still,” Turner said.

There is an ongoing shortage of personal protection supplies, as well — but no outside funding to help with the health district’s ongoing spread to COVID-19 in Kitsap County.

“There is no funding for our response effort as of yet,” Turner said.

The health district is facing staff illnesses, and programs other than the agency’s COVID-19 response are being impacted.

“We are not able to keep up wth the community side of things,” Turner said.

The health district announced another two cases in Kitsap County in an update Monday afternoon.

The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kitsap County are:

March 16: A Bainbridge Island resident in their 40s;

March 16: A South Kitsap resident in their 50s;

March 15: A Bremerton area resident in their 50s;

March 15: A Central Kitsap resident in their 40s;

March 13: A South Kitsap resident in their 40s;

March 10: A Bainbridge Island resident in their 70s; and

March 8: A Bainbridge Island resident in their 60s.

Kitsap County health officials reported Monday that it has had negative tests for 113 residents in the county through March 16.

Forty-eight people in Washington have died from COVID-19, the Washington State Department of Health reported Monday.

In a new assessment of the spread of COVID-19, state health officials reported Saturday that there have been 904 confirmed cases of the virus in Washington.

Seven cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Kitsap County.

According to updated guidelines the Kitsap Public Health District has received from the state Department of Health, people who should be tested include:

• Patients hospitalized with severe lower respiratory illness;

• Staff who work in any setting where health care services are delivered (including clinics, hospitals, behavioral health care clinics);

• Patients in other public safety occupations (including law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel); and

• Patients who live or work in an institutional setting (including jails and other correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, homeless/shelters).

The state is recommending tests if patient symptoms worsen or if healthcare provider recommends testing for patients older than 60 years, patients with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women.

According to the state Department of Health, there is “no need to test younger, healthy individuals with mild illness.”

Testing is also not recommended for persons who are asymptomatic (people who do not have symptoms).

Health officials also noted that a negative test result does not rule out an infection.