Skagit County issues new rules for COVID-19 testing

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Skagit County is one of the first areas in the state to impose strict new rules on who can be tested for COVID-19.

The county’s official test site has recently been overrun with people wanting last minute COVID-19 tests.

Going forward, anyone coming to the county’s central testing site must either live or go to school in Skagit County.

Additionally, people getting tested must also be symptomatic.

“Our staff is taxed to the limit, just like our hospitals are right now,” said Danica Sessions, Skagit County Public Health spokeswoman.

For the past few weeks, workers say they’ve handled upward of 400 COVID-19 tests every single day.

Surprisingly, half those tests were administered to folks who didn’t even live in Skagit County.

As a result, Skagit County is one of the first areas in the state to decide who can get tested.

Workers tell KIRO 7 the goal behind the new rules is to help cut down on the astronomical workload for staffers.

“These are people with families,” Sessions noted.  “They’re missing out on the dinner hour, they’re missing out on their kiddos, and they’ve already worked a full week.”

KIRO 7 learned the new changes have already led to results.

In the last day, half a dozen people have been turned away because they didn’t meet the new requirements.

With fewer people around, Melina Sheppard was able to be get tested a lot faster.

“I like the new rules because everybody from (Skagit County) gets to be first in line and they get tested first,” she said.

When Sheppard arrived to get tested, she was asked if she lives in Skagit County, and if she’s had any symptoms.

Her answer to both was “yes.”

“I did have covid symptoms, but now I’m feeling better so I’m coming to get tested to see if I’m clear now,” she said.

Health officials added that the new rules are based entirely on the honor system.

“In order to get our staff home at an early hour, we hope people will respect what we’re asking,” said Sessions.

Beyond the main testing site, Skagit County also features a vaccination site as well.

Given the need for herd immunity, health officials said anyone can still come to the site to get a shot, regardless of where they live.