U-District, Wallingford latest COVID-19 hot spots

SEATTLE — There are concerns new spikes in COVID-19 cases could lead to new restrictions.

So the city of Seattle wants to encourage residents to get tested so that it can get a better handle on who is testing positive for COVID-19 and why.

Business was brisk at this North Seattle COVID-19 testing facility along Aurora Avenue. The reasons for getting the uncomfortable nose swab are as varied as those in the line.

“We just want to be safe,” said Luke Lopez, Greenwood. “We had some friends that knew someone with COVID, and our friends are already tested and safe. But we wanted to make sure and do our part.”

“Just potential exposure, you never know,” said Lorrin Bogenschutz, his passenger, also of Greenwood. “And it’s been a while since I’ve been tested.”

It’s not because he thinks he is sick, said Nate Potts, Phinney Ridge. “No, no,” he said. “Just being extra cautious.”

This is happening as Seattle is seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections, more than 700 new cases in the last two weeks, which is a positivity rate of more than 3%.

The cases appear to be rising fastest in two ZIP codes: 98105, the University District, and 98115, Wallingford.

So the city’s plan to stop testing for the coronavirus at its Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites has been put off until at least mid-April as city leaders try to figure out the reason for the spike.

Seattle fire Chief Harold Scoggins said the testing will help.

“It helps us understand the rate of spread,” said Scoggins, “just like it did two months ago, six months ago, nine months ago. So we can understand measures we need to take or messaging we need to do.”

None of it is a surprise to those getting tested on this day.

“No,” said Katie Hogan, Phinney Ridge. “I think with the weather warming up and summer rolling around, people are starting to get outside and see friends a bit more.”

Scoggins said that is indeed one possible explanation. More of us are simply more mobile, getting out more than we did.

The problem with that is if the numbers keep rising, he said, we could see restrictions imposed again.

And nobody wants that.