SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — There are now two coronavirus testing centers in eastern Washington.
The drive-thru testing site for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) opened Friday, March 20 at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. On Monday, Pullman Regional Hospital opened a triage and testing center near its emergency center.
The Spokane County Health District is easing up on its requirement that patients have a referral to get tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Spokane County Fairgrounds site.
But patients still need to meet certain requirements to be tested.
Julie Humphreys, a spokesperson for the City of Spokane, said those with symptoms who are in high-risk groups are encouraged to visit the testing site without a referral. Health officials do recommend that you talk to your provider before visiting but this is not required.
People who are considered high-risk include:
- People over 60 years old
- Those who have an underlying medical condition
- Healthcare workers and/or first responders who have cared for someone who may have the virus.
Kelli Hawkins with the Spokane Regional Health District says those who don't fall into the high-risk category and are experiencing symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus are advised to take the following steps:
- Stay home
- Rest, eat nutritious food, and stay hydrated
- Protect others in your household by isolating yourself, washing your hands often, practicing good cough and sneeze etiquette, and cleaning high touch surfaces in your home.
Vitals are taken at the test site and workers then determine whether the person should be tested, Humphreys said. The site is not turning people away but that doesn't mean everyone is getting tested.
Humphreys said 157 people visited the fairgrounds test site on Sunday and 55 were tested. About 350 people have visited the test site since Thursday and an average of half have been tested.
Dr. Bob Lutz with the Spokane Regional Health district says individuals should stay in isolation until they've reached certain benchmarks.
"We’re generally recommending this time that you would be considered okay to take yourself out of self-isolation if you have been fever free for 3 days, off of all medication, or you’ve been symptom free for at least 7-10 days," Lutz said.
According to SRHD spokesperson Kelli Hawkins, the test site is scheduled to be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Spokane Regional Health District worked with four major local health care providers to set up the site.
Hawkins said workers at the site, which is a collaboration between the district, Providence, Rockwood-Multicare, Kaiser Permanente and the Community Health Association of Spokane, will first screen patients for coronavirus symptoms. This will include taking their temperature and asking about history, including travel, symptoms and who they had close contact with in the last two weeks.
The test will be done using a nasal cavity swab, according to Hawkins. The test site currently has a little more than 1,000 swab kits, which will be sent for testing.
If the site runs out, it will close until it gets more swab kits, according to Hawkins.
Hawkins said the results will not be ready when the person is at the site, and she also said there wasn't a single determining factor to open this screening site, but the number of cases in the county wasn't a factor.
These sites have been successful in relieving pressure on local emergency rooms in western Washington, according to Hawkins.
People are also asked to show up with an insurance card with the doctor's referral if possible, but people without insurance cards will not be turned away, Hawkins said.
Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, coughing, trouble breathing and tiredness, according to the World Health Organization. People infected with the virus may also develop pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), kidney failure and death, according to the WHO.
Pullman Regional Hospital opens COVID-19 triage and testing center
It will run seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.It will be located behind the hospital by the emergency department.
Health officials said the center it designed to screen people with respiratory symptoms or think they have COVID-19 symptoms. They said testing is not guaranteed and will only occur if a patient meets the criteria.
Patients do not need a referral from a doctor to go to the center.
Providence opens urgent care centers
Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital and other Providence hospitals are limiting visitors as an extra precaution in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a press release from Providence Health Care, no visitors will be allowed in the hospitals with very specific exceptions.
Providence officials are encouraging patients and their loved ones to communicate through phone and video calls, the press release said. The policy is in effect until further notice.
Healthcare officials said they have very limited exceptions to this policy for maternity and pediatric patients as well as patients who are at the end of life. They ask that you speak with your nurse or care provider with questions.
The limitations apply at the following hospitals:
- Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center
- Providence Holy Family Hospital
- Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital
- Providence Mount Carmel Hospital (Colville)
- Providence St. Joseph Hospital (Chewelah)
- St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute
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Inslee closes schools, bars, restaurants, other venues
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced an emergency proclamation to temporarily shut down bars and restaurants and further limit the size of gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Restaurants will be allowed to have take-out and delivery services, but no in-person dining.
The ban applies to restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues must cease operations until March 31. Other activities prohibited are salons, tattoo parlors and youth sports.
Inslee has also closed all private and public K-12 schools through April 24.