Smoke Forces WSU To Temporarily Stop Testing Students For Coronavirus-Pullman Regional Hospital Still Testing-Public Health Director Believes Student Outbreak Hasn’t Spread To Vulnerable Population

Wildfire smoke has forced Washington State University to temporarily stop testing students for coronavirus.  The problem was discussed during Tuesday morning’s Weekly Whitman County Coronavirus Update zoom meeting.

WSU and National Guard testing of students stopped on Friday afternoon.  WSU is unable to move coronavirus testing inside because the HVAC systems on campus need to cycle fresh outside air indoors to help slow the spread of coronavirus.  WSU Spokesman Phil Wieler says it’s unsafe to cycle outside air with wildfire smoke into campus buildings.  Pullman Regional Hospital is still testing for coronavirus.  Hospital officials stated during the weekly update meeting that they were able to move their testing inside.

Whitman County Public Health officials say they are expecting local coronavirus case numbers to drop over the next few days because of the pause in coronavirus testing at WSU.  Agency Director Troy Henderson says the outbreak among WSU students appears to be contained to the college-aged population.  Henderson says the apparent lack of the virus spreading to vulnerable populations in Pullman means there will likely not be any further coronavirus restrictions placed on the community.  You can listen to Henderson’s during the meeting by clicking on the audio file below.

Whitman Hospital and Medical Center officials discussed their antibody testing for coronavirus during the weekly update meeting.  The Colfax hospital has conducted 136 antibody tests with 5 coming back positive.  A positive antibody test is an indication that someone has already had coronavirus.


Health care workers prepare for the Sept. 8 opening of the Cougar Health Services testing site for COVID-19. © 2020 WSU Photo Services