High demand for COVID testing in Yakima County

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. —  The demand for COVID-19 testing is high in Yakima County and health officials are not anticipating it to decrease any time soon.

“As we get closer into the typical flu season and the winter months, we expect the demand to pick up as well,” said Mike Vachon, Senior Director at Signal Health.

More than 600 people are visiting the walk-up testing site at Yakima Valley College every day — about twice as many as last month. Lines stretch throughout the parking lot at the site and wait times are longer than average.

“The demand is so high and we just don’t have enough staff,” Vachon said.

Vachon said the positivity rate is fairly high as well, with about one out of every four to six tests coming back positive.

Doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other places offering COVID-19  testing have been struggling to keep up with the increasing demand. Some patients frustrated with the wait or unable to get an appointment have been trying to get their test at the emergency room at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

“If you are having an emergency, definitely do go to the emergency room, but please don’t come to the emergency room for a COVID test,” said Bridget Turrell with Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. “That’s what the testing site here at Yakima Valley College is for.”

RELATED: Yakima hospital concerned about COVID-19 testing capacity

A second public testing site is located at the Sunnyside Community Center, but Vachon said he doesn’t think the two sites combined are enough to keep up with the growing demand in the county.

“We’re working with our partners to see what’s possible,” Vachon said. “If you’ve been exposed, if you have symptoms, if you’re concerned, you need to get tested so that you cannot spread it to other people.”

The COVID-19 testing site at Yakima Valley College — 810 S. 14th Ave. in Yakima — is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for COVID testing.  Pre-register here for faster testing. 

The testing site at the Sunnyside Community Center — 1521 S. 1st St. in Sunnyside — is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Pre-registration is encouraged for faster testing. Pre-register here if you have symptoms or here if you have no symptoms.


POLL: Parents, are you planning to get your 5-11 year old child vaccinated against COVID-19