WASHINGTON COUNTY, Oregon — Oregon is now getting at-home, rapid COVID tests out to local health leaders. The first batch of the 6 million test kits ordered by the state at the beginning of the year went to hospitals and school districts.
In Washington County, tests arrived at the health department late last week, and the health department began distributing them on Tuesday, after receiving several requests from various groups.
Of the 16,000 test kits the health department received in its first shipment from the Oregon Health Authority, as of Thursday afternoon, around 5,000 have been distributed. Each kit contains two tests.
Boxes, filled with 90 kits apiece, are going to specific groups: to shelters and congregate living sites, to local first responders as well as community-based organizations.
"It's very significant," said Nancy Griffith, who manages the distribution of tests for the county. "It will be a huge booster to the people in our community who have a difficult time getting test kits. We have currently about 33 organizations that have reached out to us. There will be probably a total of about 50 this first week and then will help more next week."
Centro Cultural, Self-Determination Resources, Inc. and Family Promise of Tualatin Valley all picked up their allotment of at-home tests on Thursday. For the communities these organizations serve, access to testing is a game-changer.
"People have been ringing our doorbell nonstop every day. We have been hearing the community loud and clear," said Daniel Altamirano Hernandez, with Centro Cultural. "We're grateful for this opportunity to help close that equity gap for families who haven't been able to access due to low income, due to having multi generational families where there's not enough test to go around."
"It's been a real scramble to find kits," said Dan Peccia with Self-Determination Resources. "It's good that they're not being made available and hopefully it can mitigate the amount of time that people are isolated. People with disabilities are already isolated enough, and the pandemic has really exacerbated that to a great degree."
"We want folks to be able to go to work, we want children to be able to get to school," said Elise Laubach with Family Promise of Tualatin Valley. "This is a very vulnerable population that has limited access to finances and limited time to pursue these tests, so that's going be our primary focus - making sure that our shelter guests are well taken care of."