County’s first drive-thru COVID-19 testing event goes off without a hitch

An April 29 COVID-19 virus testing site at the Malheur County Fairgrounds drew samples from 39 people. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez).

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ONTARIO – A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Malheur County Fairgrounds last week was a success.

Sarah Poe, Malheur County health director, said 39 people were tested during the April 29 event. The department reported Monday that all 39 came back negative.

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 noted the recent emergence of new cases 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,” she said.

Last weekend, Poe’s agency reported the 13th case in Malheur County, a doubling in one week.

No patient was hospitalized, however, according to county data. As of Monday, five of those cases were listed as “recovered.”

Health officials say most people can recover from COVID-19 by isolating at home for about two weeks.

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 our 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 a 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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