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COVID-19 testing hard to come by as case counts continue to break records in Spokane County

Two lines of cars, one for those with appointments and one for those without, line up and snake through a large tent where people can be tested for COVID-19 on Jan. 3 in the parking lot at Spokane Falls Community College. Two new testing sites will soon open in Spokane County, one in downtown Spokane and the other in Mead.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

The demand for testing is not waning in Spokane County, but supply is running short.

As the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads, more people are testing positive or finding themselves exposed to the virus. On Saturday, a record-high of 1,094 Spokane County residents tested positive for the virus.

The community testing sites, operated by Discovery Health MD, are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The health district is hoping to increase the availability of testing soon, and the company is looking for more staff to accommodate the need for extending the hours and adding days the sites can do testing.

The district also is considering having medical reserve corps volunteers work at the testing sites as well, said Kelli Hawkins, district spokesperson.

The Spokane Public Library locations offering the PCR testing kits ran out of them on Monday.

Hawkins said other libraries throughout the county still have kits , but the district has distributed all of the testing kits available to libraries.

The health district expects to receive 5,000 more rapid antigen testing kits from the Department of Health in the next couple of weeks.

The district will target the distribution of these kits to those parts of the county where people are disproportionately impacted by the virus.

The health district is in conversations with Curative, a COVID-testing company, about expanding its services in Spokane County.

“Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll have more options,” Hawkins said.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 554 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and more than 1,600 new cases over the weekend.

There are 98 patients hospitalized in Spokane hospitals with the virus.

The district corrected its death count to show that 1,153 Spokane County residents have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

The Panhandle Health District reported 283 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and no additional deaths.

There are 78 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus. Kootenai Health is treating 62 COVID patients.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.