PORTLAND, Ore. — Three rural hospitals in Oregon with little access to testing for the new coronavirus now have on-site rapid testing machines, according to an announcement from Governor Kate Brown on Thursday.
Abbott ID NOW rapid testing instruments were delivered to Curry General Hospital in Curry County, Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Morrow County, and Lake District Hospital in Lake County. Governor Brown indicated that this was just the first wave, with more rapid testing instruments on the way to other rural hospitals soon.
The rapid testing machines can process samples and return a result "in minutes," according to Brown's office. The three hospitals will start validation testing this week before opening up that capability to the public.
“Expanding rapid testing in Oregon is key to ensuring we have the capacity to track and contain new cases, keep Oregonians healthy and safe, and prevent future outbreaks,” said Governor Brown. "Rather than taking hours or days to return a test result, these instruments are capable of returning positive or negative test results in minutes. This capability is especially crucial in our more remote communities, where rapid testing will help minimize the amount of travel needed for trips to the doctor’s office.”
Brown's office said that the federal government had sent each state 15 of these rapid testing machines, along with a small supply of testing kits and materials.
There were only five boxes of Abbott-specific testing kits delivered with the machines, each with 24 tests inside. Because of this, Brown's office said, the other machines can't be distributed yet.
“I want to be very clear: the number of testing kits we have received from the federal government for these new machines does not even come close to approaching the need we have in Oregon right now," said Governor Brown. "I am committed to working with our federal partners to secure additional test kits as Abbott and other companies ramp up their production capacity.”
For the time being, the rapid testing machines were distributed only to areas with no existing access to COVID-19 testing, with a limited number of first responders, where courier services to the state public health lab are limited, and that have a high population of older adults and other at-risk groups.