Washington to lift restrictions on coronavirus testing

Mar 4, 2020, 9:29 AM | Updated: 10:55 am

Inslee, coronavirus testing...

WA Gov. Jay Inslee. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that the state will be lifting restrictions on coronavirus testing.

As coronavirus has spread, testing has been limited to those exhibiting severe respiratory or fever-like symptoms and have come into confirmed contact with the virus either in the U.S. or in a country deemed a high risk by the CDC.

According to Inslee, those limitations were the result of what he deemed a “really unusual” federal law, “prohibiting testing facilities and primary care physicians from being able to test people who had a cough or fever but were not hospitalized.”

After the governor consulted with Vice President Mike Pence and the CDC, the decision was made to allow anyone exhibiting even mild symptoms to have their primary care doctor order a coronavirus test.

“I’m hopeful that some of the frustration people have had will now be solved,” he told Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio.

Additionally, the state will be ramping up its testing capabilities “by a factor of ten,” while UW Medicine will soon be able to handle as many as 1,000 tests a day.

“We are continuing to bolster testing capacity,” he noted.

Beyond testing, Inslee described the state’s response as a “multi-pronged effort,” as it begins to “think very, very critically” on imposing limits on large-scale events and gatherings.

That comes as part of a larger strategy to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“It would be a hierarchy of things — the first thing would be to legally prohibit gatherings over a certain number,” said Inslee. “This is something that’s under consideration and we’re going to make the right decision at the right time.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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