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With high demand for COVID testing, health officials say you can't rely on it to keep you safe

Parker Miles Blohm
Nurses conduct drive-through COVID-19 testing at UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic in March.

Due to the high demand, health officials say if you don’t have coronavirus symptoms, then hold off on getting a test right now. Last month COVID testing sites in the Seattle area were conducting about 4,0000 tests a day. Now that number is up to about 8,000. Testing centers are straining to keep up.

Also, just because you get a negative test result does not mean you are safe to socialize with other people this Thanksgiving. 

“You can't just test a few people and then go have Thanksgiving together or even safely travel to that sense if the positive rate gets up really high. It only adds extra information. It’s not the foundation. COVID is spread by human behavior. Not by lack of testing,” says Dr. Geoffrey Baird, the head of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology with UW Medicine.

Health officials continue to say the best gift you can give loved ones this holiday season is to keep your distance and only celebrate with your household.  The lab at UW is feeling the strain of the demand for testing. Turn around time from public test sites was 18 to 24 hours. Now it’s taking about 30 hours to get results.

For more stories and information about COVID-19, explore our podcast, Transmission.

Jennifer Wing is a Producer for our weekly show, Sound Effect.
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