Whatcom County COVID-19 testing sites have been unable to keep up with growing community demand as the omicron variant continues to drive record case numbers. “Our systems are stretched throughout. … Testing is very challenging right now,” Whatcom County Health Director Erika Lautenbach said during an online briefing Tuesday, Jan. 11. Just how great Whatcom County’s testing demand is isn’t exactly known.
The Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard hasn’t updated testing data since Sept. 15, when it paused those metrics in an effort to increase its ability to process data. A series of “unexpected delays” have delayed when the state plans to resume reporting testing data multiple times, and it now is expected to return approximately Feb. 28. But if Whatcom County’s 2,978 molecular and antigen tests that came back positive during the first 10 days of 2022 are any indication — already more than any other month of the pandemic — it’s safe to say demand is higher than it’s ever been
“If you think about 400 people testing positive, there are that and many more who have tested negative each day, and there is just an incredible demand for testing given how prevalent this has become in our community,” Lautenbach said. “We are working with our partners to try to increase capacity, but truly when you see that line (of daily new cases in Whatcom County), that shows just incredible growth. We don’t have exponential resources.”