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Low-risk people should save COVID-19 tests for others

Oregon and the nation are running low on COVID-19 testing supplies amid a surge in cases fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus. Associated Press file photo
Jackson County offers guidance during testing shortage

Jackson County Public Health is asking low-risk people to consider foregoing COVID-19 tests in order to save them for others during a local and nationwide testing shortage.

“To help ensure that those most in need of COVID-19 tests are able to access them, we are requesting help from everyone to make wise choices about when you seek testing and which type of test you request,” Jackson County Public Health said in a press release.

Low risk people include those who have been vaccinated, are young and have no or few underlying health conditions. Low risk people who have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should consider foregoing a test, public health officials said.

People who are only mildly ill should stay home and follow current isolation guidance. People who are only getting tested because they want to travel or attend an event are asked to consider postponing the activity.

“As we experience a surge of COVID-19 cases that is larger than we have previously experienced, we are seeing a limitation in how many tests are available to our community. The medical community is doing everything it can to meet testing needs, but the realities of limited staff and tests mean we cannot fully meet these needs,” Jackson County Public Health said in the press release.

If you are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 because you have underlying health conditions, you should still seek testing if you develop symptoms or have been exposed.

For people at all levels of risk, signs that you may need hospital-level care include difficulty breathing, chest pain, blue lips, a blue face, confusion, persistent high fever and persistent, uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea. Seek testing and medical care, public health officials said.

Jackson County Public Health said people should be aware of the different types of COVID-19 tests.

PCR testing is excellent for picking up on a COVID-19 diagnosis early in the course of infection. However, these tests can remain positive in some people for 2-3 months, so do not use a PCR test to determine whether or not you are still infectious, nor to determine if you can return to work, public health officials said.

Antigen testing is excellent for helping determine if you are infectious. However, a test to return to work is not required in the current isolation and quarantine guidelines. If you have not had a fever without the use of medication and your symptoms are improving or you never had symptoms, you can return to work after five days of quarantine or isolation without the use of a test, public health officials said.

If you have questions about isolation, quarantine or COVID-19 infection, call the new Oregon Health Authority hotline at 1-866-917-8881 or visit www.oregon.gov/positivecovidtest.

The public can also use the state website to self-report a positive result from an at-home test kit. Self-reporting is not required, but it does help the state track COVID-19 levels.

If you need help finding a testing site, call 211 or visit jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/General/News-Information/covid-19-testing-information.