UW ‘overwhelmed,’ cancels most preholiday COVID-19 tests

VIDEO: Pre-travel testing appointments canceled for dozens of students at UW

SEATTLE — So many students signed up for COVID-19 tests at the University of Washington that most appointments were canceled.

They say it was straining their ability to test those with symptoms.

There was a steady stream of people with appointments going in for tests, so the lines were long.

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An emergency room doctor says if you don’t have symptoms, you shouldn’t bother taking a test.

It appears so many COVID-19 tests have been given at the University of Washington, it didn’t take long to find someone who had tried to get one.

“And I was one of those they canceled,” said Genesis Carrion, a UW freshman, “unfortunately.”

Carrion says she got an email a couple of days ago telling her she couldn’t get a COVID-19 test before the Thanksgiving holiday.

She was asked how she felt about that. “I’ve only been around my roommate and we live in the same building,” she said. “We wear masks wherever we go. But I just wanted to be safe, just 100% sure.”

She is not alone.

There were long lines of people lining up off-campus wherever COVID-19 tests were available over the last few days, straining the region’s testing capacity, say experts.

“We still don’t have this unlimited number of tests that people think we have,” said emergency room physician Dr. Hala Sabry.

She says the worry is that those who really need a test won’t be able to get one.

“So for travelers this holiday season, I know that you’re trying to be responsible and think that getting a test is the responsible thing,” Sabry said. “But the most responsible thing is actually staying home and not taking a test away from someone who has symptoms.”

Even a negative test, she says, is no guarantee that you or those you love are safe from the coronavirus.

“We really just want everybody’s families to be alive for next year, so we’re asking everyone to stay home,” she said. “Please stay home.”

Sabry says given what they are seeing, health professionals fear the weeks after the holiday will be filled with people sick and dying from COVID-19.