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As vaccinations rise, Seattle experts emphasize importance of COVID-19 testing

While more people are getting vaccinated, it remains vital that anyone exposed to coronavirus gets tested and takes proper precautions.

SEATTLE — Even as COVID-19 vaccinations rise, experts don’t want people to forget about the importance of coronavirus testing.

"The simple case is that there's just not that many people vaccinated yet,” said Dr. Geoffrey Baird, interim chair of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "We really need to go back to, you know, what we've been doing for the last year, which is identify as quickly as we can."

Public Health — Seattle & King County shared this reminder about the importance of testing on Twitter: "Remember COVID-19 testing? It's still important!  Most of our testing sites now use the shorter swabs that look like Q-tips. These have been proven to be just as accurate, making testing efficient and pain-free! For a list of free testing sites, visit http://kingcounty.gov/covid/testing."

Baird said widespread testing and testing centers are still necessary, but he predicts the approach to testing changing over time, especially when it comes to keeping tabs on schools.

"Having surveillance to be able to find outbreaks when they happen, is going to be incredibly important for that,” said Baird.

While coronavirus testing, overall, is significantly down compared to the height of the pandemic, demand is slowly growing.

Public Health — Seattle & King County said testing is up 28% from the 7-day moving average on Tuesday, March 16.

As cases and hospitalizations in King County rise, testing is vital, both in the short-term and in the months to come. 

“I think everyone has some idea, or some opinion, as to how long this is going to last, but I don't think anyone thinks this is going to be over this year,” said Baird.