After months of stagnation, Washington's COVID testing increases

Jul 2, 2020

After Washington’s COVID testing stagnated for nearly two months, there is good news. The average number of daily tests nearly doubled in mid-June, going from about 5,000 a day to 9,000 a day by the end of June.

Testing is important because it helps reduce transmission of COVID from people who have not yet exhibited symptoms. The increase in COVID cases in Yakima was caused, in part, by people who were asymptomatic. Testing helps prevent those with the illness, even if they don’t need hospitalization, from passing it along.

As we wrote in the past, other states had been steadily increasing their testing while Washington’s numbers stagnated and even declined for much of May. When asked about the failure to increase testing, the Governor’s office “disputed the numbers.” In fact, the Governor’s COVID dashboard showed consistent improvement in the testing dial, despite the decline. Fortunately, the pressure to increase testing paid off and the dials were discontinued and testing was increased.

There has been a great deal of focus on wearing masks as a way to reduce asymptomatic transmission. But testing is important, especially for those working in close quarters with others, makes more drastic measures, like lockdowns, less necessary. Without good information about the spread of the illness, efforts to contain the coronavirus must be more restrictive and more economically harmful.

The nation is still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic and probably will be for some time. Without adequate testing, we will be flying blind and the economic cost of the shutdowns will be higher than is necessary.