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Latest sampling shows COVID-19 at levels similar to this time last year

Last year researchers started randomly testing communities for COVID-19. They just completed their seventh round of testing with interesting results

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Over the last year, Oregon State University students teamed up with health care workers have been going to randomly selected homes in Corvallis offering up free COVID-19 testing.

Scientist Ben Dalziel is leading the first of its kind project called TRACE-COVID-19.

"It's an important... to know what's going to happen with the pandemic in the future," said Dalziel.

The goal of the project is to understand the prevalence of the virus in the community.

In the very first weekend of sampling done in April of last year, the findings suggested about two people per 1,000 in the Corvallis community had the virus when they were tested.

RELATED: Wastewater testing traces COVID-19 to source, allows for targeted testing at OSU

The findings from this latest round of testing?

"Our estimate is that three in a thousand of the population would test positive, so prevalence of three in a thousand," said Dalziel.

That is good news considering three months earlier sampling showed a prevalence more than four times higher.

"We're seeing some communities having it declining and other places its flat lining or increasing again," he said. "This phase of the pandemic is going to play out very differently in different places."

In addition to the COVID testing, the volunteers also offered antibody tests as well as vaccinations. Most agreed to get the antibody test.

"What I was really surprised by was the really high participation in the antibody testing given folks would not be able to access their results," said Dalziel.

Of those sampled, who had not yet been vaccinated, about a quarter agreed to get the shot.

"Whether it's a convenience thing or a inability to make it to a vaccinations site, there are folks out there who would like to receive it, but haven't been able to do so yet."

The researchers hope to expand these samplings to areas with lower vaccination rates to help the state reach its 70% vaccination goal and find out just how immune communities are.

RELATED: Calls grow for Oregon governor to scrap 70% vaccination goal

Watch more KGW vaccination stories here