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Demand for COVID testing up as positive rates soar

KPTV Covid testing site
Posted at 8:46 AM, Nov 10, 2020

With COVID-19 cases surging in Oregon, so are the demands for testing.

Oregon Health and Science University's (OHSU) free, drive-through test site at the Hillsboro Stadium was packed Monday afternoon, with the facility quickly reaching capacity hours before it closed for the evening.

A spokesman for OHSU said that it can be fairly common for a Monday after the weekend, but they haven’t experienced such a surge in need for tests since the last big spike in cases.

“In the past five days, we’ve had over a 100 new cases every single day,” said Tricia Mortell, the public health manager for Washington County.

It’s troubling news for the county as the race to slow the spread of the virus now takes on new urgency.

Monday, Gov. Kate Brown added Washington County to a multi-county mandate requiring a two-week pause on “social activities” that also added further restrictions to gatherings and businesses like restaurants and gyms.

“We’re asking people in the next two weeks to consider only spending time with your household, reducing the amount of social gatherings you have with others, or eliminating them entirely,” Mortell said.

It’s an effort to keep the most vulnerable from getting sick and to maximize the number of available hospital beds.

As of Monday morning, 86 percent of ICU beds in the Portland metro area and the northern Oregon coast were full. However, that includes anyone in need of intensive care and not just COVID patients. Still, local hospitals told Fox 12 there’s been an uptick in coronavirus patients admitted.

Like most people who fall ill with the virus, Vancouver resident Olivia Chambers never needed to go to the hospital, and she’s grateful she’s now feeling much better more than a week after she tested positive for COVID.

“I still get winded super easily, but I’ve never really had difficulty breathing, necessarily, but I feel like just doing small things makes me really tired,” Chambers said.

Chambers told Fox 12 that Clark County contact tracers have persistently followed up with her but haven’t been able to tell her how she may have contracted the virus.

“I don’t really go anywhere because I don’t like to be out in public and stuff with everything going on,” Chambers said. “I probably got it from work -- I’m not sure.”

As a front-line grocery worker, Chambers is now on paid leave to quarantine, but she still worries about the future.

“It’s pretty scary because I didn’t get it bad this time, but what about next time? Chambers wondered.

“I have pre-existing conditions,” the 29-year-old added. “I’ve had a heart attack, I’m overweight, and I’m nine weeks pregnant.”

Health experts say now is the time to double-down to slow the virus down.

“This has worked before, we’ve been able to do this as a community, and we can do it again,” Mortell said.

The two-week “pause” on social activities starts on Wednesday and goes through the day before Thanksgiving. Of course, health officials are still urging people to avoid large Turkey Day celebrations.

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