COVID-19 Questions of the Day: Testing

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pioneer has received more emails, messages and comments about testing for COVID-19. They are testing in Tillamook county of the 4 positive tests there have been 123 negative tests. There is a protocol that health care organizations are following from the Oregon Health Authority.

From Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County COVID-19 Incident Manager
Who should be tested?
Many people are interested in testing for COVID-19 out of concern for themselves and their loved ones. If you have trouble breathing or feel very ill, contact your healthcare provider or, in case of emergency, call 911.
Healthcare providers may decide to have you first tested for other illnesses, like the flu, based on your possible exposure history and any other symptoms you might have.
Individuals who feel very ill should seek appropriate care. If it is an emergency, call 911. If it is not an emergency but you feel sick enough to need a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office. If you don’t have a doctor, call 211 for a list of clinics near you. If necessary, visit your local urgent care center.
Call before you go. If you have flu-like symptoms or have reason to think you might have COVID-19, let your healthcare provider know before you visit. This will help avoid exposing anyone else at the provider’s facility.

What are Oregon’s testing priorities for COVID-19?

Public health goals for COVID-19 testing are:
To understand the geographic spread of the virus within Oregon
To identify groups at highest risk for severe disease
To protect those at highest risk
To understand trends for the infection in Oregon

To these ends, priorities for testing for COVID-19, either at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory or at other laboratories, are:
Symptomatic residents or inmates in long-term-care facilities, corrections and other high-risk congregate settings; and workers and staff in these facilities, and workers in critical infrastructure. (We expect that healthcare and other employers will take responsibility for their own staff: that they do not work while sick; and if they have exposed others while ill with COVID-like symptoms, that testing will be arranged by the employer.)
Persons hospitalized with otherwise unexplained, apparently viral, pneumonia; and unattended deaths.
Symptomatic individuals identified by local and tribal public health authorities who pose risk to vulnerable populations, should they prove to have COVID-19.
Limited testing of symptomatic outpatients, through our current “Sentinel Provider” surveillance system (for influenza-like illness).

We require Oregon laboratories, and ask out-of-state reference laboratories, to report both positive and negative test results, so that we can calculate percentage positive in various settings and among various demographic groups.
More information is available at