CORVALLIS, Ore. — Scientists at Oregon State University will soon begin going door-to-door in Corvallis to test the community for COVID-19.
The goal of the groundbreaking study is to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community by taking samples from households throughout the city of Corvallis.
The project is called Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-Level Coronavirus Epidemics, or TRACE-COVID-19. OSU scientists are working with the Benton County Health Department on the project, which is among the first in the nation.
"Testing nationally and locally has been focused on those with symptoms, but it's likely that some people who carry the virus display no symptoms, and they may have been inadvertently involved in spreading the disease without having known that they had the virus," said Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor in OSU's College of Science.
Researchers will begin a pilot phase on Sunday, April 19, to test the process of gathering and testing samples.
The study will take place each weekend through May 16. Researchers will visit a sampling of households in randomly selected Corvallis neighborhoods and collect samples from 960 people.
Community members will be invited to participate in the study. If they say yes, they will be given a test kit to administer to themselves and their families. Researchers won’t enter anyone’s home.
Results will be sent to participants in 7-10 days.
“We are flying blind in many ways because we do not know how many people are infected with the virus and how that is changing over time. Without this knowledge, it is much more difficult to implement effective control measures and to forecast the spread of the disease,” said Dalziel. “Right now, we are managing the pandemic mostly looking in the rearview mirror. We need to be looking forward, and that's what this study will help allow.”
Researchers hope the study will serve as a model for other cities in Oregon and across the country.
"The TRACE study will provide critical information about the spread of the disease in the community, how the epidemic is changing over time and measure how public health recommendations throughout Oregon are working," said Benton County health administrator Charlie Fautin.
More than 1,600 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Oregon and 64 people have died. Benton County has had 25 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Corvallis' population is 58,641, which is more than half of the 93,053 people who live in Benton County.