PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The White House coronavirus task force says Oregon is one of four states with the lowest COVID-19 testing capacity in the United States.
The Oregon Health Authority said more people will be tested now that restrictions have been loosened on who qualifies for testing.
State officials now encourage those who are working directly with the public and have symptoms to seek testing with their doctor’s approval. The same goes for minorities and people living or working in group care facilities.
The OHA said it currently has more capacity than test samples.
More testing needs to be carried out to get a true sense of how many people in Oregon have the coronavirus beyond what’s been reported, according to experts.
“Until we get more testing on a wider scale and potentially with a lot of a random population it will give us a better idea of how many people are sick,” said Ken Stedman, a virus scientist at Portland State University. “And that can change how we personally interact with other people and also how the government can come up with regulations like how long we need to stay in place, what can be reopened.”
More independent drive-up testing sites are expected to open. Those who visit such sites will still need to make an appointment and have a telemedicine screening beforehand with a doctor in their practice.
But testing negative doesn’t rule out the possibility of contracting the coronavirus.
“Assume that everyone else is infected and therefore you need to protect yourself and assume you are infected because I might have been exposed and sick now but it’s shown pretty clearly that for the first 3-4 days I could be sick and spreading it and not knowing it,” Stedman said.