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Coronavirus Study Coming to 30 Bend Neighborhoods 

Researchers from Oregon State University may knock on your door this weekend and offer a free COVID-19 test

A team of researchers from Oregon State University will descend upon Bend and fan out through 30 neighborhoods to offer confidential coronavirus tests to 650 people through May 30 and 31. TRACE, or Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-level coronavirus Epidemics, is a study designed to get an overview of how the virus has spread in Bend, especially among asymptomatic carriers who have had little access to testing.

click to enlarge When TRACE team members come to Bend this weekend, they will stand at least 10 feet away from the homes of potential participants. They’ll come back later and  collect tests that people leave in a sealed bag at a safe distance from their house. - KARL MAASDAM
  • Karl Maasdam
  • When TRACE team members come to Bend this weekend, they will stand at least 10 feet away from the homes of potential participants. They’ll come back later and collect tests that people leave in a sealed bag at a safe distance from their house.

One key element of the study involves collecting a random sample of people who live in Bend, instead of just testing volunteers or people who think they’re sick. Field workers will visit different neighborhood census blocks that represent a thorough picture of Bend’s population: They are as likely to test a grocery store worker as they are to test a stay-at-home mom.

OSU researchers will also study Bend’s wastewater that same weekend to look for the genetic material of COVID-19. The two studies combined will help Deschutes County health departments work with city and county officials on epidemic management, said Dr. George Conway, Deschutes County health director.

The test itself will only identify active cases. People will be given a non-invasive nasal-swab kit they administer themselves inside their house. They’ll place the finished kits outside their door. OSU will send people their results within 10 days through confidential communication channels. If some participants test positive, Deschutes County Public Health nurses will follow up with them for a contact tracing investigation.

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