by Carolyn Bick
Washington State will be expanding its novel coronavirus testing strategy, Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a June 4 press conference.
Joined by state Health Secretary John Wiesman, Inslee said that the number of available test kits has increased substantially, and that in an effort to keep ahead of the novel coronavirus and associated disease, COVID-19, the state is encouraging everyone who has even mild symptoms or suspected contact with an infected person get tested. Inslee said that this is particularly important, as people head back to workplaces and other congregate settings.
Wiesman acknowledged that there are certain barriers facing communities who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, such as Latinx and Black communities. These barriers include transportation. Wiesman said that as more testing tools come on board, such as approved home testing, the state will be using them to expand the testing base. He did not answer the Emerald’s question about what the state will be doing to address barriers like transportation.
However, Wiesman said that the state will be working with local community health leaders and shifting testing sites out of hospitals to places like pharmacies and community health clinics in an effort to address concerns within communities of color, particularly Black communities, that the American medical system can’t be trusted, due to an history of reported systemic abuse and racism within it.
“We really feel local communities that are trusted entities are the best to both help deliver that message and to provide the services,” Wiesman said. “This is going to require us working closely with communities … where they already have those relationships with community, where they have providers that look like the community, that speak the language.”
Inslee asked that those who are awaiting test results stay home, and keep their family members with whom they live at home, too, in order to limit the potential spread of the virus.