Clinics in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties, and Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, have recently received rapid COVID-19 tests that produce results in just 15 minutes.

The supply of tests went out to the clinics from North Central Public Health District (NCPHD), which received 5,000 of the tests from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to distribute to clinics in the three counties in its district. The tests were distributed to local health authorities statewide to beef up capacity and timeliness of testing, according to an NCPHD press release. 

Some clinics get tests directly from the state as well as from NCPHD.In late September, the White House announced its initiative to distribute the quick tests nationwide through the end of the year. The Abbott Laboratories BinaxNow test is not intended for use in people who are just being screened, for a procedure or travel, for example. Rather, these tests are best used on people who are sick with COVID-like symptoms and/or have had exposure to somebody who is confirmed to have COVID-19. The test uses a nasal swab that goes about an inch into the nose. A few drops of reagent are placed on a small test card, then the swab sample from the patient is placed on the reagent. It produces results in 15 minutes.

The OHA distributed the tests to support new, more robust testing guidance that came out earlier this month that calls for testing of symptomatic persons and close contacts of cases, even if they are asymptomatic. The goal is to identify more positive cases, trace and isolate more cases to help contain the virus in Oregon, and support school reopening. False positive results are very unlikely for the quick test, according to the NCPHD. Anyone who tests positive with the test is considered by the OHA to be a confirmed case, regardless of symptoms.

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