PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Brown announced an increase in Oregon’s COVID-19 testing capacity during a press conference on Tuesday.
She said state will be receiving 80,000 rapid antigen tests per week from the federal government, which is double the current capacity.
“Testing is an excellent tool to give us a more full tool to find where the virus in hiding in our communities,” she said. “With this increased testing capacity, we hope to be able to diagnose people more quickly so they can get the care they need.”
Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said Oregon has seen a 25% increase in cases since August 31, which marked the end of a 5-week decline.
“We have certainly seen a rise in COVID cases lately,” Governor Brown said. “But colder, rainy weather is coming. Oregonians are certainly going to be spending more time indoors, where COVID spreads more easily.”
Allen said the distribution of tests will begin where communities were affected by wildfires and congregant care settings. They will also be distributed to schools and some will be saved for a reserve.
Allen also said there is the possibility of false negatives with the rapid tests.
“No COVID test is 100% accurate,” Allen said. “A negative is not a free pass.”
Senior Health Advisor Dr. Melissa Sutton said positive test results are reliable. Negative test results, however, could be false, and warned people to be cautious even with a negative result.
Governor Brown also said officials will be reevaluating school metrics in coming weeks. It wasn’t clear if this meant the metrics would be changed or not.
During Brown’s presser, the Oregon Health Authority reported 301 new confirmed/presumptive COVID-19 cases along with nine new deaths. The latest data brought the state’s number of coronavirus cases to 35,340 and the death toll to 581.
The nine deaths reported Tuesday ranged from age 64 to 93. All but two of the victims had underlying medical conditions, according to OHA.
Multnomah County remains in Phase 1. Three counties — Benton, Clatsop and Malheur — are on the state’s Watch List, defined as an area where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and officials can’t trace it to a specific source.
This also comes on the heels of President Trump being diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as more than a dozen White House staffers and aides within the past week.