Patient samples to be screened for coronavirus infections had piled up at the University of Washington department of laboratory medicine in mid-March (left). After a processing spree over the weekend, an empty cart represents the non-stop work of volunteers and staff (right).

The University of Washington department of virology sent out a note of thanks after workers and volunteers in Specimen Processing Services came together over the weekend to process COVID-19 samples. On March 14, the lab processed 2,360 samples, approximately 8 percent of which were positive, and on March 15, they tested another roughly 2,000 samples, mostly from western Washington, and found that about 6.5 percent were positive. The lab is operating at full capacity during the coronavirus pandemic and as of March 16 is only able to accept samples from established clients.

The public health department in King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, reports 488...

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at

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