Greetings, residents of Grant County.

Beginning today and occurring daily for the immediate future, the Grant County Health Department will provide information to county residents on the total number of COVID-19 tests administered, total number of negative tests, total positive tests and total tests pending.

Up until three weeks ago, the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory was the only lab processing COVID-19 tests in Oregon. The data that was reported by the Oregon Health Authority came from the OSPHL. At that time, the data was an accurate reflection of the testing that was occurring in all counties in Oregon.

In the last several weeks private labs have begun testing for COVID-19. That is good news. All labs immediately report the results of the tests to the health care provider that ordered the test, and they report positives to the county health department. However, there is a significant delay in private labs reporting negative results to OHA. Given this, the data that is currently appearing on the OHA website is not an accurate reflection of testing that is occurring in Grant County.

At the time of writing this article, the OHA website shows that five tests have been administered in Grant County, with one positive result and four negative results.

To address the discrepancy, the health department will report the most up to date testing completed in Grant County. This information from Blue Mountain Hospital District, Grant County Public Health Department and primary care will be reported daily to the media. Following is the information for March 30, 2020. Note: This information may not include negative or pending test results completed out of county on Grant County residents.

Total COVID-19 tests administered in Grant County: 21

Total Positive: 1

Total Negative: 16

Total Pending: 4

As previously indicated, it is important to note that this information will not match information provided on OHA’s website. However, we feel it is important to provide Grant County residents with the most accurate information possible.

Health care providers are doing their best to be very strategic with testing for multiple reasons.

There is a short supply of test kits available at this time.

We are attempting to minimize traffic within the hospital, especially for those who only have mild or no symptoms to help prevent potential additional exposures within the hospital.

There is a critical shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, and as the outbreak develops, this will continue to decrease the supplies on hand. Each test administered requires the use of full PPE, and if testing is completed on everyone with mild symptoms, we are further depleting our supply of PPE with each test, when in fact these people are advised to stay home and self-isolate until 72 hours after symptoms have resolved.

Ideally, health care providers would love to have enough testing capability and PPE supplies to test everyone that would like to be tested. Unfortunately this is not an option at this point.

We are encouraging people to stay home and to self-isolate if they are sick until 72 hours after symptoms have resolved. If symptoms such as difficulty breathing, confusion or chest palpitation occur and medical care is needed, people are encouraged to call their primary care provider, the hospital or 911. This will allow the hospital to prepare for the arrival of a potential COVID-19 case. The provider will evaluate the person and then will decide if testing should be completed.

Grant County health officials continue to urge Grant County to take steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

Those considered “high risk” include adults 60 and older, or anyone with a serious health condition, including lung or heart problems, kidney disease or diabetes, or anyone who has a suppressed immune system.

People vulnerable to complications should follow OHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings.

Every resident should take these basic steps to protect those most at risk:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

• Stay home if you feel ill.

The COVID-19 virus spreads like the flu, when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes close to another person (close means approximate six feet).

After someone contracts COVID-19, illness usually develops within 14 days. Symptoms mirror those of the flu, including fever, cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat and general feelings of illness.

We would urge those who present with these symptoms to call 211, their primary care provider or the Grant County Health Department at 541-575-0429.

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