COVID testing in Oregon ‘remains a concern’ as cases spike

Coronavirus

Problem areas identified, solutions offered in letter to Gov. Brown

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Saying “the lack of available, easily accessible testing remains a concern that must be addressed immediately,” State Rep. Rachel Prusak offered some COVID-19 testing solutions in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown and officials with the Oregon Health Authority.

The Democrat from West Linn-Tualatin noted Oregon has tested a smaller percentage of its population than any state except Pennsylvania and that the weekly testing rate is the lowest except for Kansas.

“We have identified several problem areas facing our communities and ask you to implement solutions immediately to increase testing and ultimately decrease the spread of COVID-19,” Prusak wrote on letterhead from the Oregon State Legislature dated November 16. Read the entire letter at the bottom of this article.

A long line of cars at a drive-thru COVID testing site at Ron Tonkin Field in Hilllsboro, November 16, 2020 (KOIN)

Some of those solutions include providing rapid testing capabilities for all Oregon communities, identifying central testing locations and the use of “common protocols Oregonians can understand and rely upon.”

Prusak’s letter also wants the state to be “the centralized hub to ensure testing in every community is readily available and easily accessible.”

House Republican Leader Rep. Christine Drazan was one of the lawmakers who signed off on the letter.

“The access points to testing are really confusing and really complicated and if you hop online and you look for a place to get tested, it’s not easy,” said Drazan. “We need to improve how quickly tests can be analyzed and reported back and most of all, we need a hub so that Oregonians know where to go.”

Steven Reed has been tested for COVID-19 and found the process relatively easy. But this new data shows that hasn’t been the case for everyone.

“I think it would be a good thing to make sure everyone has access,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I live in Klamath Falls and we have a testing center there that’s open.”

Another Oregonian, Jason Feliz, has also sought out a COVID-19 test and agrees things could improve.

“I just feel like we should come together in these tough times and try to solve this pandemic,” he said.

Most of Oregon is under a 2-week COVID freeze mandated by Brown, but some spots, like Multnomah County are in a 4-week freeze.

On Thursday, OHA reported yet another new daily record of coronavirus cases, 1225, and record 20 deaths. Since the pandemic began there have been 60,873 cases and 808 deaths.

“We urge implementation of aggressive testing strategies in advance of the holiday season and utilization of all resources available to immediately expand rapid testing availability and contact tracing,” she wrote.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later.

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