SALEM, OR – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have completed initial baseline COVID-19 testing of staff and consenting residents in 683 long-term care facilities statewide, achieving the first of two objectives set by Governor Kate Brown’s testing plan.
Baseline testing found that the overall rate of COVID-19 infections in nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities is 2.2 percent based on preliminary results. Facilities were required to complete administration of tests by September 30 and follow up by submitting results. With baseline testing complete, the plan calls for facilities to test all staff at least once a month on an on-going basis.
“We took quick action in the first days of this pandemic to protect the residents and staff of long-term care facilities by enacting some of the strictest visitation policies in the country, but with that protection has come great sacrifice. One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of this crisis is the reality that, to keep our vulnerable long-term care residents safe, so many Oregonians have not been able to visit their loved ones, to sit with them, to hold their hands,” said Governor Brown. “With this first phase of long-term care testing complete, we are one step closer to finding a way to strike the balance between keeping our long-term care facilities free of COVID-19, and making sure residents are able to have the family time that is so critical to their wellbeing and health.”
In addition to providing information about COVID-19 cases, the baseline testing requirement provided facilities with the opportunity to develop the capacity to quickly and regularly test residents and staff.
Facilities are required to report any positive test result immediately to their local public health authority and ODHS. ODHS conducts at least weekly onsite visits to facilities with COVID-19 cases and collaborates with OHA and the facility’s local public health authority to monitor how the outbreak is being managed.
To ensure individuals’ privacy, the only publicly released information from the testing will be aggregate data. Positive test results are included in OHA’s Weekly COVID-19 Report, if the facility has three or more cases or one or more deaths. In addition, facilities with cases are included in ODHS lists published twice weekly.