On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services delivered 8,000 additional sample collection test kits for COVID-19, along with supplies of the protective equipment needed to conduct the tests.
The news comes in response to requests for more COVID-19 testing from Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
“These additional resources are vital to supporting Washington’s COVID-19 response, and we thank our federal partners for their efforts,” the press release states. “The Washington State Department of Health is working to distribute the new supplies to local health agencies in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties – the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus thus far.”
According to the release, the additional test kits are intended to increase the capacity for testing on high-risk populations, including elderly people, those with pre-existing conditions as well as the health care providers and first responders who are caring for others during this outbreak. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health and Human Services plan to provide additional test kits and related equipment to Washington state as those materials become available.
Statewide Testing Update
The State Public Health Lab brought additional testing equipment online March 8 and continues to increase testing capacity, the release states. As of March 14, the lab can test more than 200 samples each day with a 48-hour turnaround time. The state lab’s goal is to test 400 samples a day. The Centers for Disease Control recently updated its guidance to recommend testing only one sample per person, which will increase the number of people that can be tested.
The University of Washington Virology Lab and commercial laboratories are able to perform COVID-19 testing as well. As of 3 p.m. March 19, 20,742 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in Washington state, with 1,376 positive tests.
Personal Protective Equipment
According to the release, the Department of Health has requested and received two orders of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile. On March 6, the federal government delivered 233,000 N-95 respirators and 200,000 surgical masks, as well as face shields, gowns and gloves. On March 12, the federal government delivered 129,000 N-95 respirators and 308,000 surgical masks, as well as face shields, gowns and gloves. On March 13, the Department of Health requested an additional 64,690 N-95 respirators; 154,103 surgical masks; 29,344 face shields; and 23,925 gowns. As of March 19, this request is still awaiting approval.