Officials are closing the coronavirus testing gap

Assembling test kits
Workers assemble coronavirus test kits in a warehouse in Tumwater, Wash. (Washington State Department of Health Photo)

Ten days after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the Trump administration to task for failing to send enough supplies for coronavirus test kits, public health officials say the gap is closing — and the day is coming closer when anyone in the state who wants a test will truly be able to get one.

There’s still a gap: In his tweet from May 15, Inslee said the state received only 60,000 of the 580,000 nasal swabs that were promised for the month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. With a week to go, Washington state officials report receiving 211,800 swabs so far this month.

Charissa Fotinos, deputy chief medical officer for the Washington State Health Care Authority, said supplies are also tight for other items that have to go into every test kit — ranging from the vials of transport media into which the sample swabs are placed, to the little pads that are supposed to absorb any leakage. The items are assembled into kits in a warehouse in Tumwater, Wash., by teams that include state employees as well as National Guard soldiers and volunteers.

“Right now we do have most of those things to keep us for a couple of days of making specimen collection kits, and we’ve ordered more,” Fotinos told GeekWire. “So we’re definitely in a better place than we were two weeks ago. But I can’t tell you that the supply stream will continue as strongly as it is.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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