Necessary steps – Wed, 23 Sep 2020 PST

Maggie Quinlan’s article (“Pullman’s party problem: Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases could bring reckoning for WSU culture,” Sept.13) highlighted the surge of COVID-19 cases in Pullman associated with the return of WSU students for the fall semester.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Inslee, Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, WSU President Kirk Schulz and other community leaders to discuss this same topic.

My message in that forum was clear: Our community, and communities across our country, need access to testing any time, symptomatic or not, and at a reasonable price. I also emphasized the importance of reducing regulatory and special interest hurdles that are barriers to getting tested and receiving FAST results.

Here are some specific calls to action for our region that I shared with Governor Inslee:

1. Test every returning student.

2. Require student pledges.

3. Enforce local and state laws to keep communities safe.

4. Make testing faster and less expensive.

To accomplish #4, we need to lower the cost of technology and remove unnecessary steps. I believe that requirements for CLIA certifications — a regulatory requirement associated with lab testing — should be temporarily waived for all COVID testing. This single change could also drive down the test-response time in Pullman and elsewhere.

Finally, I noted to the governor that Indiana is using CARES Act funds to provide free testing across the state. Might that work in Washington and other states?

Please join with me in advocating for these simple, actionable changes.

Edmund O. Schweitzer III, Ph.D

President and Chief Technology Officer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories


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