Gov. sets COVID-19 testing goals needed to reopen

Gov. Kate Brown is setting a goal of testing up to 4,200 Oregonians per week and training 600 contact tracers as a portal to reopening Oregon. 

“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,” said Governor Brown. “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.”

In documentation provided for the testing and tracing plans, there are no benchmark dates given for ramping up testing and no target date as to when Oregonians might see their local businesses open.

The day after the announcement regarding testing, Brown extended Oregon’s emergency declaration another 60 days. The original declaration made in response to the pandemic was set to expire May 7, the extension keeps it in place until July 6. 

“The novel coronavirus infections continues to threaten public health and safety,” Brown wrote as part of the order. 

The declaration allows the governor to maintain the “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order as well as the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions. 

The testing plan relies on: 

• Voluntary, widespread testing in partnership with Oregon Health and Sciences University.

• Coordination between all hospitals to act as a statewide system for allocating testing resources according to need. 

• A focus on collecting data to serve at-risk communities. 

Under the plan released on Friday, May 1, every symptomatic resident of the state must be tested with results available within 72 hours. In addition, a surge capacity must be established to deal with residents living in group situations such as retirement community and rehabilitation centers when an infection is suspected.

Those who test positive and have symptoms will be asked to isolate themselves at home until symptoms have subsided without use of medicine. 

Those that test positive without symptoms will be asked to stay in isolation for seven days after their last positive test. 

Case managers will assist those in isolation or quarantine with accessing food, shelter and other support services. 

Contact tracers, individuals trained to investigate potential contacts when an infection is identified, will be used to identify groups of the disease and estimate the health status and behavior of the population. 

Oregonians will be urged to download a to-be-identified phone app to assist in the effort. Several developers are rolling out software for phone that will help pinpoint potential points on contact and infection. 

“As we look to reopen Oregon, it’s critical we use science and data to ensure we can safely take steps forward. Public health experts agree that there are key steps to safely reopening. At the top of that list is a thorough strategy to test, trace and isolate the virus,” Brown said. “In order to reopen and hopefully stay open, we must have randomized, widespread testing across the entire state.”