As laboratories struggle to keep up with the increased demand for Covid-19 tests triggered by the surging Omicron variant, at least two US health care providers have prioritized coronavirus testing for those who exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
The University of Washington last week at multiple locations began prioritizing Covid-19 testing solely for those “who have symptoms of respiratory illness or who have a known exposure to COVID-19,” UW Director of Media Relations Susan Gregg told CNN in an email Sunday.
University facilities are not currently testing people without symptoms, including those seeking tests related to travel or gatherings, according to Gregg, “due to the high volume of omicron cases that are being processed in our laboratory.”
Nine UW Covid-19 testing locations are currently open throughout King County, including in Seattle, but Gregg tells CNN that three other university sites run in concert with the city and county have been forced to temporarily close due to “capacity limitations.”
“Because each positive sample must undergo additional testing, the recent surge in positive tests limits the total number of samples that we can handle,” Gregg said of the updated policy that went into effect on Jan. 4.
The University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill is facing a similar testing crush due to the Omicron variant and is also restricting Covid-19 tests to those exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, as well as university employees, and those requiring a test prior to a surgery, according to UNC Health Director of News Alan M. Wolf.
“We implemented those restrictions because of the surge in demand, and to ensure we have adequate supply,” Wolf told CNN in an email Sunday. “We expect to keep the restrictions in place until the number of cases begins to decrease,” Wolf said.