Malheur County’s first COVID-19 testing event proves to be a success

Local health officials and volunteers helped spearhead a COVID-19 testing site at the Malheur County Fairgrounds Wednesday. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez).

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ONTARIO – A drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Malheur County Fairgrounds Wednesday was a success even as the county health department reported an eighth positive case and is investigating another.

Sarah Poe, Malheur County health director, said 39 people were tested during the event. She said she expects the results from those tests “within a week.”

“Our hope is that for the positives, we’d get that information back slightly sooner,” said Poe.

Malheur County’s eighth COVID-19 case is a woman between the age of 40 and 49. The woman has not been hospitalized, said Poe.

Poe said officials are reviewing a probable ninth case but it has not been confirmed.

Poe said safety was a priority at the testing site.

“Hopefully people didn’t have to wait too long. In the beginning, we had a line but most people were able to get through in a reasonably short amount of time,” said Poe.

Poe said the county’s COVID-19 task force – consisting of county and health department personnel – plans more testing events in Vale and Nyssa. No times or dates have been set.

Poe said she was concerned about the emergence of an eighth case of COVID-19 in the county.

“I think that it is important to realize the coronavirus is not going to go away and it is about the behavior of the public that can mitigate these risks,” said Poe.

Poe said the task force and public health personnel are “working hard to do contact tracing and making sure people are isolated when they have symptoms.”

“We are just asking everyone to be vigilant for good hygiene, social distancing and wearing their face mask in public,” said Poe.

For the county to reopen, said Poe, extreme protective measures by area residents will be crucial.

“We want to reopen out community. But it will require that we don’t see a big influx of cases and also that the community follows heightened precautions,” said Poe.

Poe said unless residents can guarantee when they go out that they will not be within six feet of another person they should don face covering.

Those face coverings can “be from a T-shirt, or folded up towel or a handkerchief. Use what you have. Anything is better than nothing,” said Poe. “What is not OK is people not taking this seriously and putting other people at risk.”

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