By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Oregon State University and OSU-Cascades conducted a COVID-19 TRACE study over the course of several weekends in Corvallis and two days over Memorial Day weekend in Bend, to better understand the prevalence of the virus in the Oregon communities.
More than 600 people in over 30 Bend neighborhoods participated in the door-to-door project.
“Some people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, who is this? Is this fake? I’ve never heard anything about this before!”, said Risa Christie, a volunteer TRACER and OSUC-Cascades Biology major. “But with Bend people there was a lot of enthusiasm when they found out who we were and OSU students.”
“It was that important time because Deschutes County had just reopened and it was an opportunity to find out how we are all doing and maintaining public health in the community,” Steve Clark, Oregon State University’s Vice President of University Relations said.
Nobody tested positive for the disease, but the data suggested one person per 1,000 likely had been infected.
“That was evaluated in a combination of means,” said Clark. “Not only the door-to-door trace sampling that we did, but a modeling that takes that information along with the information of reported cases of COVID 19 and puts those together.”
“I was very surprised that the number was so low,” said Christie. “I was assuming it was going to be a lot higher.”
Deschutes County health officials say that the study has provided valuable information about the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
“It allows us to know, is there unchecked community spread that we’re not aware of? And in this case, we didn’t find that,” said Deschutes County Public Health’s Morgan Emerson. “So we’re not seeing significant amounts of COVID spread going undetected through our community.”
However, Emerson adds, we shouldn’t start dropping our guard just yet.
“It’s important to remember that this is just a point in time count for one weekend,” said Emerson. “It’s unlikely that we have unchecked spread of COVID-19, but we do know that we have cases.”
“The prevalence of the virus remains very real,” said Clark. “And as a result of that, we need to maintain our watchfulness and our commitments to good public health.”
They are hoping to schedule another round of sampling in Bend, but Clark says there is no date set just yet.