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LOCAL NEWS: COVID-19 testing ongoing in Clatsop County

LOCAL NEWS: COVID-19 testing ongoing in Clatsop County

Clatsop County residents have a lot of questions about COVID-19 testing locally.  Here’s an update.

by Joanne Rideout

Clatsop County Health Dept Director Mike McNickle said, contrary to rumors circulating on social media and elsewhere, people are indeed being tested locally in the county for the virus. 

He said dozens have been tested so far and providers are testing more daily. The county currently receives test kits in batches of 20, which they send off for analysis, and then receive 20 more. 

Testing nationwide is overseen by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control. For Clatsop County residents, the Health Department is not doing the testing. Instead tests are handled by the Oregon State Public Health Lab in Hillsboro, and private labs, like Quest and Labcorp. 

As far as stats on how many people are being tested. McNickle said tests are being analyzed by a combination of public and private testing labs, and negative results are only shared with patients and their primary doctors. As a result he does not have numbers on the total number of patients tested.

In fact, because of patient confidentiality, McNickle said he would only be aware of positive test results for the virus. And it would be the Oregon Department of Health that would inform the Clatsop County Health Department of any positive test results. As of Tuesday afternoon, March 17, there were no positive COVID19 test results in Clatsop County.

While local health care providers and local hospitals are conducting ongoing testing, currently there are not enough kits available yet for widespread community testing. McNickle said he expected that soon there would be considerable expansion of access to testing.

McNickle said only patients who are most severely ill would tend to be hospitalized, primarily for breathing issues or complications from underlying conditions. Those tend to be elderly people. There is no treatment for COVID-19, other than to provide hospital support as needed. Most people will experience mild symptoms and will likely need to recover on their own. 

Regarding the county’s at risk homeless population, the health department has agreements with area hotels to quarantine homeless patients if they receive positive test results. 

McNickle urged all residents to comply with directives on social distancing and hygiene, meant to flatten the curve of contagion.

“You can’t prevent COVID-19,” he said. “That’s my message.”