Oregon officials say they are on track to receive a total of six million COVID-19 home test kits, or a total of 12 million individual tests, by the end of January.
That includes nearly a million test kits expected in the next seven days.
The expected increase in testing capacity comes as Oregonians are stuck in lines to be tested and find empty store shelves where home tests should be, all while watching case numbers rise about the state.
“While it may seem like a COVID-19 test is impossible to find, the volume of testing in Oregon has never been higher than it is today,” Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, said at a news conference.
The state ordered the test kits almost the end of last year. So far, it has received less than a million kits.
While Oregon has increased its testing capacity, the demand for COVID-19 testing has continued to increase with the spread of the ommicron variant.
Oregon reported 9,797 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. The state’s seven-day average of cases was just over 7,600 — a 128% increase from the previous week.
The number of hospital admissions related to COVID-19 is also increasing. Allen with OHA said yesterday that there were more than 750 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. That’s a 45% increase in the past week.
Oregon’s Distribution of Tests
Some states have offered “direct-to-consumer” options for getting tests, but Allen said Oregon won’t.
Instead, Allen said the six million home test kits will be distributed to: hospitals, schools, local public health authorities, tribal governments and community organizations serving underrepresented communities. He said they will also go to Head Start programs and organizations that serve farm workers and the homeless.
“Our test distribution strategy is based on fairness and fairness,” Allen said. “We are prioritizing the six million tests we have purchased for organizations serving people who are most exposed or vulnerable to COVID-19, or those who have less access to a test.”
The focus on disadvantaged populations is reflected in the state plan for the COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid.
Allen noted that OHA supports 10 large-scale vaccine sites in the western half of the state, six of which have tests available.
“We’re working to add testing to the remaining sites next week through partnerships with Curative and the federal government,” Allen said.
Starting Saturday, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde will open a large-scale vaccination site at Spirit Mountain Casino, and testing will be added in the coming week, Allen said.
“We also applied for three additional federal testing sites in the Willamette Valley,” he said.
Allen said demand for testing will remain high for several more weeks.
For people who feel sick, but are at low risk for complications from COVID-19, and who don’t have access to testing, Allen said they should assume their symptoms are COVID-19 and take proper isolation protocols as outlined. through the centers. for disease control. That means isolating from other people for five days. If the symptoms have resolved after the five days, people are advised to return to normal activities while still wearing a well-fitting face mask.
Allen acknowledged that the daily number of cases of OHA is missing many home test results, as well as undiagnosed cases. OHA announced on Wednesday a new hotline and website for people to report positive test results from at-home kits.
“To be completely transparent, we are probably approaching the maximum capacity our test system has to identify cases,” Allen said.
Going forward, Allen said hospitalizations and deaths will continue to represent the most reliable and significant statistics due to testing limitations.