Enumclaw COVID testing site closing April 1

While public agencies are saying the drop in COVID cases means it’s safe to close the testing site, the site manager is worried it’s too soon.

One year, three months, and 22 days — that’s how long Plateau residents and visitors from King and Pierce counties were able to get tested locally for COVID-19.

But two days from now, the testing site located at Enumclaw Middle School — which saw close to 50,000 tests performed in its tents — will be shutting down, with no plans to open at another nearby location.

“Due to decreased demand, the last day of operation for the COVID-19 testing site at Enumclaw Middle School will be April 1. Thank you @DiscoveryHealthMD @UWMedicine @MOEinsurance @EnumclawSD and the City of Enumclaw for your partnership in this site’s success,” Public Health — Seattle & King County tweeted on March 15, referring to Discovery Health MD, the private company that ran the site; UW Medicine, which helped process data; and Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance, which first hosted the testing site when it opened Dec. 10, 2020, before moving to EMS May 27 the following year.

According to site manager Amber Nonamaker, her staff have been testing a few dozen people per day and, maybe even more importantly, less than 10 percent of those tests have been coming back positive.

“We have actually had a few days where it’s been totally clear,” she said in a recent interview as an individual, rather than as a representative of her company; according to King County data, Enumclaw had a seven-day average of 1.3 daily COVID cases as of March 19, a marked decrease from when the city experienced a peak of 97 cases alone on Jan. 10.

But despite the obvious good news, Nonamaker is unsure if closing the site is the best thing for the Enumclaw community.

“I get to see all the other numbers from other sites, so I’m able to see that the Enumclaw site still has the highest test numbers out of all the sites my company runs,” she said, adding that this site is the only one in King County Discovery MD staffs, with much of the rest being in Pierce County, including the site in Bonney Lake. “That’s seeing 40, 30 people a day or so. Everywhere is less than that, which is another reason why it’s funny they’re closing [this site] down, because there’s definitely still a need for it, even if not at the same capacity as it was with Delta and Omicron.”

Public Health had a lease with the Enumclaw School District to operating on its grounds, but the lease expired at the end of 2021, and the two parties agreed to continue site operations on a month-to-month basis. Since then, the two entities talked about closing the site in unofficial terms until Public Health requested the district send an official request to stop operations, pointing to the drop in COVID cases and a need to reclaim the parking space the testing site was occupying.

According to Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, a deputy assistant chief with Public Health and who oversees the county’s testing operations, Public Health agreed with ESD’s evaluation of the situation and made plans to shut down. Before fully committing to closing the site, though, Public Health approached Enumclaw to see if it could move elsewhere. The city declined, also pointing to the lull in coronavirus activity; Beccaro said Public Health agreed with Enumclaw’s decision.

Although it appears these conversations have been happening at the higher levels for a while, the move to close the site came unexpectedly to Nonamaker and her staff.

“The site closing down was a complete surprise to everybody… In fact, we had extended our contract with King County and had even gotten FEMA funding for the site to stay open to the end of June,” Nonamaker said. “That’s when we were more expecting to start… post-COVID procedures.”

Beccaro confirmed that Public Health recently renewed contracts with companies like Discovery Health MD to continue staffing testing sites through June with FEMA money, but with nowhere else to go in Enumclaw, all that is left to do is close up shop.

“All those contracts have out-clauses for either side, just like you would think for any kind of contract. So if the site is no longer needed before the end of the contract period, then we would… come to an agreement over the end date,” he said. “In this case, there’s no where to [relocate] testing, so we have to move to that part of the contract.”

Nonamaker added that the closure is resulting in more than half of her staff — including herself — being laid off, though mostly because any open positions within the company require more than a bit of travel to get to, like Chehalis.

Overall, she understands the logic behind closing the site, but worries that pulling the plug too soon might leave people in a lurch if another wave hits the area.

“Everyone did get [COVID] over the holidays, so there is quite a bit of natural immunity. But that natural immunity is going away — it only lasts 60 to 90 days,” Nonamaker said. “I’m optimistic that this might actually start to go away, but, like I said, the natural immunity is going away, so it’s entirely possible we’re going to see another huge spike over the summer like we did with Delta.”

Conclusions about how long natural immunity from COVID lasts varies widely — some studies show immunity can last for months, while others say for years (this is the same for vaccines, hence booster shots). On top of that, it’s important to consider that natural immunity through infection is not guaranteed — again, results vary wildly, with one CDC study compiling data showing anywhere between 85 percent of people failing to develop antibodies to 95 percent of people developing antibodies (the CDC study itself claimed a third of people do not develop antibodies).

Beccaro noted Public Health is in the midst of creating contingency plans for if COVID activity starts to spike again, “especially for south King County,” though “it’s not finalized yet.”


While Public Health has said the Enumclaw testing site has performed over 49,000 tests, it’s unclear how many people that equates to.

The majority of testees, unsurprisingly, were from Enumclaw (57 percent), and most were for King County residents (81 percent).

Dr. Beccaro broke down average postitive tests rates by year at the site: at the end of 2020, about 10 percent of tests on average came back positive. That increased to just over 12 percent by the end of 2021, and skyrocketed to almost 33 percent between January and March 2022, due to the Omicron variant. (It should be noted that this is more updated information than you can find on King County’s COVID dashboard, which shows roughly 13 percent of all tests performed in Enumclaw came back positive; the county stopped recording COVID test summaries August 2021 due to delays in reporting negative test results).

“[Enumclaw] has been the area with the highest percentage positive tests and highest number of infections for all of King County,” Beccaro said. “That’s been true throughout the pandemic, even when everybody is in a relative lull and there [was] no Delta and no Omicron.

“Even now, now that we’ve come down from the Omicron surge, the last number that we had was about 6.5 percent positive, which still puts them, of the sites that Public Health runs in the south county — which includes Renton, Auburn, Federal Way, and Tukwila — it’s, by a hair, still the highest,” he added, clarifying that Auburn is the next highest with a 6.3 percent positive test rate.


If you still need to be tested for COVID, both the Bonney Lake and Auburn locations remain open, for now.

The Auburn testing site (2400 Perimeter Rd) is drive-through and walk-up accessable, and open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can make an appointment here.

The Bonney Lake location (at the Park-And-Ride, 9201 Sky Island Dr. E) is also drive-through and walk-up accessable, and open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments are encouraged.

You can also order at-home COVID tests from the state and federal goverments.

Visit SayYesCovidHomeTest.org to order five tests, twice a month, per household (while supplies last).

You can also order tests through the covidtest.gov website run by the federal government. Every home is eligible to order two sets of four at-home tests.