UW Medicine’s COVID-19 testing site in Ballard at 5415 Ballard Ave NW and two other sites will close on Tuesday due to short staffing and an abundance of positive cases.
Along with staffing issues, the Ballard, Seattle City Hall, and Lake Sammamish State Park sites will close due to high positivity rates which are slowing down the overall testing process.
Also on Tuesday, UW Medicine will begin to limit operations at all their testing sites to only allow people with symptoms or a known exposure to test at its other sites. That means people who are testing in order to travel or attend events will not be able to utilize any of UW Medicine’s testing sites starting January 4.
In a news briefing, the chair of laboratory medicine and pathology at UW Medicine Dr. Geoff Baird said such high case rates mean the UW laboratories are no longer able to “pool” tests as they have been. In pool testing, scientists take a handful of samples from a testing site and mix together an extraction of each sample to determine if there’s a positive case.
If the outcome is negative, they move on and can determine that all four or five of those samples were negative. However, if they find one positive case, they go back and test each sample individually.
But when positivity skyrockets and every pool tests positive for COVID, pool testing becomes useless. They have to test each sample individually, slowing down the overall process. And right now, positive cases are hovering around 40% for the Seattle area.
UW Medicine will still operate its other nine locations; other nearby options for North Seattle are Aurora, Shoreline, and the University District.You can make an appointment at another UW Medicine testing site using this link.
The Ballard site is also closed today (Dec. 31) due to winter conditions.It’s unclear how long the Ballard site will remain closed, but we’ll update you with any new information.
King County’s COVID website has a full list of other options for testing in Seattle.
Photo: The Ballard testing site in Aug. 2021. Photo by Ballard Alliance