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COVID-19 testing sites shut down due to winter weather in Puget Sound region

Winter weather closed at least 20 COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites across western Washington Tuesday.

SEATTLE — Snow and frigid temperatures forced many COVID-19 testing sites to close and cancel hundreds of appointments in western Washington.

Public Health – Seattle & King County temporarily closed some COVID testing sites through at least December 28, citing winter weather conditions that made it unsafe for staff to get to those locations. The health department said nine testing sites were closed Tuesday due to winter weather.

Many people were scrambling to find an open test appointment after their scheduled time was canceled. Some people needed a test in order to travel, some needed a test to see family and others were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Public Health – Seattle & King County advised anyone who wants to get tested to check their updated site before heading to a location, and in most cases, say they must make an appointment to do so.

Because of high demand, Public Health asks that anyone who has a regular health care provider or pharmacy seek a test there before trying to schedule an appointment with a King County free test site. The department says this is in an effort to preserve space for people who do not have access to other resources. Priority will be given to people who already have symptoms or confirmation that they have been exposed to COVID-19. People who need a test for travel are encouraged to look for rapid testing options that specialize in the service.

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UW Medicine's website said at least six testing sites were closed Tuesday due to winter weather. Click here to see testing site locations and hours on UW Medicine’s website.

On Monday, people were turned away from the UW Medicine testing site on Aurora Avenue. Dozens of people stood in line outside and cars lined the road of the testing site, which was scheduled to open at 9 a.m. but was closed due to weather, according to UW Medicine's website.

Other closures on Tuesday include the drive-through COVID testing site at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, the Capital Mall vaccination clinic.

Snohomish Health District's (SHD) drive-through sites will be closed until next week. SHD said its Ash Way site would be operational for testing again on Jan. 2, and its Longfellow School site will be operational again beginning Jan. 3.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said multiple testing sites were also impacted by “adverse weather conditions.”

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department also announced Tuesday at least three COVID-19 vaccine clinics were closed due to freezing temperatures and icy roads. The closed clinic locations include St. Ann Parish in Tacoma, the Mustard Seed Project in Lakebay and Trinity Lutheran Food Pantry in Tacoma. The vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Food Bank is also canceled.

Testing right now is critical. Dr. Patrick Mathias, vice chair of clinical operations at UW Medicine, said samples in Seattle collected on Christmas Eve had a 13% positivity rate, which is a record high for the pandemic.  

The Polyclinic Madison Center COVID-19 testing site opened Monday for people with an appointment. 

"I'm really grateful that they're out here and working," said Angela Zang, who had an appointment at the clinic.


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