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Washington said to be on track to meet COVID-19 testing and tracing goals

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

Washington state officials say they have received a big shipment of coronavirus testing materials from the federal government, putting the state on track to have enough resources to keep a lid on the outbreak in coming months. 

In a Tuesday briefing, Reed Schuler, a policy adviser to Gov. Jay Inslee, said in the last few days, Washington received about 250,000 swabs and about 210,000 units of the medium used to transport the samples to labs. That’s approaching half of what the feds have promised by June. 

Schuler says most of that arrived over the weekend after long delays, and in pretty disorganized fashion. But he says if the federal supply proves reliable, the state is on course to meet its goal of being able to do about 22,000 tests a day. 

“If this supply continues, and if it has fewer of the kind of challenges that we’ve seen — bulk packaging that makes it very hard to keep the swabs in their sterile condition — basically, if a variety of those challenges are solved, these supplies are likely adequate for the near term,” Schuler said. 

Schuler cautions there still could be bottlenecks on the laboratory side. 

Health officials also say Washington now has the capacity to contact-trace as many as 1,000 new cases a day. That’s far more than what the state has seen recently — new daily cases have stayed under 300 since May 1. 

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Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.