California Wildfires Force Shutdown of COVID-19 Testing Sites

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Thick wildfire smoke blocks the sun and turns the sky orange. image: Twitter

The air quality is so poor in Snohomish County California due to the wildfires that it has forced the health department to close it’s two coronavirus testing sites.

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With wildfires burning throughout the state, the air quality is suffering and Health officials agree- the timing could not be worse. Normally, they would recommend people wear N95 masks to protect themselves from the smoke particles. They are now asking people to take other precautions instead and to save the masks for first responders and medical professionals. MJVentrice posted a video on Twitter describing how the sky has turned orange in the bay area of California.

Wildfires delay COVID testing


State health officials acknowledge the recommendations to keep yourself safe from wildfire smoke, conflict with preventing the spread of COVID-19. Over the past week, the county has averaged 854 new cases and 28.1 new deaths per day due to the coronavirus.

“When air quality is bad, stay indoors, close windows to keep air clean indoors. But we also know with COVID if you’re indoors and you don’t have good ventilation and you’re with multiple other people, that can increase the risk of COVID transmission, “said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer with the Washington State Department of Health.

The two coronavirus testing sites, located at the Lynnwood Food Bank and the Everett site near the Aqua Sox stadium were forced to close on Wednesday. They hope to re-open sometime today. It was also revealed this week that about 20% of people who test positive for coronavirus aren’t bothering to pick up their phone when Snohomish County contact tracers call, health officials say.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is monitoring the levels which returned to moderate in some areas on Wednesday. They expect levels to increase Wednesday night. Later in the week, they think the winds could shift and send more smoke from Oregon.

“We may be getting some smoke from Oregon which has much bigger and thicker smoke than we have so we might be in for another dose of it,” said Phil Swartzendruber, Ph. D., an air quality scientist at Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Doctors are warning people with lung issues to take extra precautions.

 




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