Washington pauses posting negative results

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health is asking the laboratories that conduct the largest volume of COVID-19 tests to temporarily stop sending negative test results, instead sending the aggregate number of negative tests per day. During the period, DOH dashboards will report positive cases daily, but not the total number of daily tests and not the percentage of positive results.

The reason for the temporary change is that while the state’s system can receive and process an average of 33,000 total results today, the state is currently receiving as many as 50,000 records per day. That has led to a backlog that are a mix of negative and positive results. As of Saturday, the backlog totaled 53,000 tests. 

Testing volumes, meanwhile, are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Without the pause, health officials say the state will grow farther behind. In addition, DOH stated that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported is an undercount because of the backlog.