The Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday that coronavirus testing is now recommended for some people without symptoms, but the latest guidance does not yet include extensive testing in long-term care facilities.
State public health officials have reversed their earlier stance that general testing of people without symptoms “is unprofitable,” featuring six categories of Oregonians for which today’s trial is recommended.
This includes people of color affected by the coronavirus in Oregon and nationally. At least one Oregon tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, saw more than 20 positive COVID-19 cases by the end of May.
“The widespread effects of coronavirus fall primarily on Black and African American, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Latino, Latina, and Latinx people, in the US, and here in Oregon,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a statement on Tuesday. “A century of history of racism and oppression has led to health conditions that exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.”
The six categories are:
- Close contacts of a person with a confirmed infection or with a person who public health officials think is infectious
- People exposed to coronavirus in a mixed setting, such as a nursing home or prison
- Migrant or seasonal farm workers, they come to Oregon
- Oregonians black, African American, Latino, Latina, Latinx, American Indian / Alaska Native, Asian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander
- The Oregonian with a disability
- People whose first language is not English
Oregon’s test capacity is estimated at about 38,000 a week, though fewer than half are commonly tested.
Encouraging testing in some people without symptoms can help identify infections earlier and reduce the spread. The virus is not contagious to Latinos, who are among those now being recruited to be tested without symptoms.
The Oregon Health Authority’s guidance does not encourage widespread testing in long-term care facilities. It has never been as aggressive as the federal guidelines to test all staff in nursing homes each week. Residents should also be tested weekly at facilities with a suspected infection until the virus disappears, according to U.S. Centers. for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
State officials have indicated that a test plan for long-term care facilities is imminent.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority has announced that it has launched a study of antibody test results. Serology tests do not identify active infections but, if accurate, should show if someone developed an antibody to the virus from a previous infection
The study should “determine the population prevalence of antibodies in Oregon based on statewide sampling,” according to health authority documents.
State health officials in the classroom said last month that non-testing of antibody results was because the tests were too unreliable.
– Brad Schmidt; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt
Subscribe to Oregonian / OregonLive newsletters at podcasts for the latest news and top stories.