Brown lays out plans for testing, contact tracing ahead of reopening

Gov. Kate Brown on Friday introduced new plans for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, two foundational elements of her framework for reopening Oregon safely.

Ensuring adequate testing capacity and contact tracing will allow Oregon’s health care system to effectively identify and treat new cases of COVID-19, trace contacts with new cases to identify those at risk for infection, and contain new outbreaks before community spread can occur.

“As we look to reopen Oregon, it’s critical we understand the prevalence of COVID-19 across the state and use science and data to ensure we can safely take steps forward,” Brown said. “A strategy of testing and tracing helps us identify who has the disease and who may be at risk of infection — knowledge that is incredibly powerful as we look to reopen.”

Key elements of the testing plan include:

  • Voluntary, widespread testing in partnership with OHSU
  • Unified coordination between all hospital labs to optimize Oregon’s available testing capacity, acting as one statewide system which will allocate resources to meet the state’s testing needs in every region
  • A focus on collecting data to serve at-risk communities

Brown’s contact tracing plan sets a goal of training at least 600 contact tracers, deployed statewide by county, with a focus on recruiting individuals with cultural and linguistic competence for the populations they serve.

The plan also expands Oregon’s testing criteria, so that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested within 48 to 72 hours with a goal of being able to perform 30 tests per week for every 10,000 Oregonians.

Deschutes County last week administered 351 tests – the most in one week since the pandemic arrived. To meet the governor’s goal, County Commissioners said Friday they would need to increase the number to 660 tests per week.

Oregon Action Plan

In recent weeks COVID-19 testing has increased to more than 9,000 tests per week in Oregon, with more than 56,000 tests performed (as of April 28, 2020), according to the governor’s plan.

The percentage of positive tests has declined from 9% at the outset of the pandemic to 4.8%, which is lower than most states and indicates that the state’s testing guidelines for clinicians have appropriately reflected COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Oregon Health Authority estimates that 15,000 COVID-19 tests are needed statewide per week at this time,” the report said. “This includes the number of tests we need for testing people in Oregon communities or cases (12,250 tests per week). We also need tests (2,500 tests per week) in clinical and group care settings and to follow COVID-19 outbreaks and study the movement of the disease. ”

In a list of regional testing strategies, the governor’s plan says Region 7 (Jefferson, Deschutes, Crook, Wheeler, Grant, Lake and Harney counties) are averaging 21.2 tests per 10,000 people.

“Region likely has sufficient capacity to manage its own testing in most areas,” the report said. “Priorities include developing additional testing capacity within health systems and supporting the use of point-of-care instruments in geographically isolated areas.”

COVID Testing and Contact Tracing Strategy

You can see the full details of the plans by clicking the links below:

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