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Surge in coronavirus tests creates major reporting backlog for state

The Washington State Department of Health has placed a pause on reporting negative test results.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington State Department of Health has asked several high-submitting labs to stop sending negative results for one week as it works to clear a coronavirus testing backlog.

DOH its labs are receiving 30,000 to 50,000 tests daily. The state's testing capacity is 33,000 tests per day. 

On Saturday, the department said the increase in demand has created a backlog of 53,000 tests that need to be reported on the website. 

"We have been working to expand the system’s capacity to receive additional results in anticipation of a surge, but recent disease growth and the associated testing volumes have outpaced our efforts," DOH spokesperson Frank Ameduri said in a statement. 

Those who test for COVID-19 will receive their results from their health care provider or testing sites, regardless of a positive or negative result.

DOH said the backlog means recent case numbers are likely an undercount that doesn't reflect disease trends. During this time, their dashboards will report positive cases each day, but not the total number of daily tests or percent positive. 

DOH expects testing volumes to continue to increase.

It is unclear whether the pause on reporting negative results will be lifted by Thanksgiving. 

In order to gather indoors, state restrictions require a person to quarantine for seven days and receive a negative coronavirus test no more than 48 before the gathering. 

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