PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon public health officials say that they have not identified any new cases of COVID-19 in the state since Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency on Sunday, according to a brief update from the Oregon Health Authority on Monday morning, but a number of samples still need to be tested.
So far, one confirmed case and 13 "presumptive" cases have been identified in Oregon. A presumptive case means that the person has tested positive for the virus at a state lab, but samples will be sent to the CDC for confirmation.
This weekend marked a rapid expansion in the number of presumptive cases in Oregon. Public health officials announced the first three cases in southern Oregon on Saturday, as well as an additional case in Washington County. By Sunday, seven more cases were added as the Governor made the emergency declaration.
Test samples from 52 possible cases are still awaiting lab results, OHA said. Samples for 165 other possible patients have already tested negative for COVID-19.
According to OHA, 226 people are still being monitored for signs of the virus, while 291 have either completed monitoring or were found to have no risk.
Health officials identified the third presumptive case, a person from Umatilla County, last Monday. They were being treated at a hospital in Walla Walla, Washington, while authorities worked to track down other people who may have been in close contact. The patient spent time at a youth basketball game in Weston, as well as Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton.
The earlier two cases were people in Washington County, Oregon, who had been in close contact with one another. The first case — now confirmed by the CDC — worked at a elementary school in Lake Oswego, prompting the school to shut down for thorough disinfecting.
Though it has been at least a week since state officials identified the first and second cases in the state, the CDC has yet to return results on their test samples. The lag outlines an apparently significant backlog in the federal government's ability to quickly confirm presumptive cases.
"With expanding spread of COVID-19, additional areas of geographic risk are being identified and the criteria for considering testing are being updated to reflect this spread," the CDC said in its updated recently updated guidelines. "In addition, with increasing access to testing, the criteria for testing for COVID-19 have been expanded to include more symptomatic persons, even in the absence of travel history to affected areas or known exposure to another case, to quickly detect and respond to community spread of the virus in the United States."
On Saturday, Klamath County health officials said that the state of Oregon can process a maximum of about 40 tests for COVID-19 per day — a number that could increase should private labs be brought in to aid in the testing.
Each test actually consists of two samples from a single patient to ensure the validity of results. In that sense, Oregon is capable of testing 80 samples per day, but only half that number of patients.