Pullman Regional Hospital is working on setting up a centralized COVID-19 testing center to meet high demand as the delta variant continues to put pressure on local health providers.

Whitman County Commissioner Tom Handy said Monday that Palouse Medical in Pullman is administering so many COVID-19 tests that it has overwhelmed its walk-in clinic, ReadyCare.

According to Palouse Medical’s social media, it has closed ReadyCare early five days in the past two weeks because it reached maximum capacity.

Whitman County Public Health Director Chris Skidmore told the commissioners on Monday that PRH is hoping to ready the testing center sometime in the next two weeks.

“The hospital is looking at standing up a site for a centralized testing resource with the hope of doing several hundred tests per day and thereby taking a lot of that pressure off our small provider clinics so they can see patients regularly,” he said.

Skidmore said the testing center will likely be staffed by people from outside Pullman’s local providers.

Whitman County also is working to make testing easier by providing parents of local students take-home COVID-19 test kits. This will allow parents to administer the COVID-19 test to their children at home and mail it to a testing center that will provide them with the results.

Skidmore said he hopes the dvariant wave in Whitman County will crest during the next week because data shows the number of cases is cresting nationally and in Washington.

Cases are still currently on the rise. There were 300 new cases in the county confirmed between Aug. 29 and Saturday.

Whitman County reported 37 new cases during the weekend and Monday with no new COVID-19 deaths or hospitalizations.There have been a total of 5,092 cases, 55 deaths and 158 hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. This equals a rate of just under 600 cases per a population of 100,000, which is similar to what the statewide trend is, Skidmore said.

Skidmore gave an update on the Palouse Empire Fair this past weekend and said a Department of Health caravan parked at the fairgrounds administered 14 vaccine doses by Saturday night.

Public Health – Idaho North Central District also reported 37 new cases and no new deaths in Latah County since Saturday.

The newest cases include six people younger than 18, six people between ages 18-29, four people in their 30s, three people in their 40s, six people in their 50s, six people in their 60s, three people in their 70s and three people in their 80s.

There have been 3,594 confirmed cases, 229 probable cases and 19 total deaths among Latah County residents since the start of the pandemic.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.