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.
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.
If you think you may need hospital level care (difficulty breathing, chest pain, blue lips/face, confusion, persistent high fevers, persistent uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea, etc.), please seek testing and care. If you are at higher risk for complications due to underlying conditions, please seek testing.
If you are only mildly ill, please stay home and follow current isolation guidance. If you are seeking a test for screening to travel or attend an event, please consider postponing. If you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 but you are low risk (vaccinated, boosted, young, no or few underlying conditions), please consider foregoing a test.
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.
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 meds and your symptoms are improving or you never had symptoms, you can return to work on the 6th day of quarantine or isolation without the use of a test.
We acknowledge that accessing a test is ideal; unfortunately, during a crisis such as this COVID19 surge, we cannot always enact the ideal plans. Please consider forgoing a test if you do not absolutely need one. And please consider which type of test you choose to help preserve medical supplies and medical care for those in greatest need.
A lot of guidance is changing right now, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and desire to help the community as we work to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to do what we can to increase testing capacity.
If you have questions about isolation, quarantine, COVID-19 infection, please utilize the new OHA Hotline at 866-917-8881 or visit www.oregon.gov/positivecovidtest.
If you need help finding a testing site, please call 211.
Guidance on when to test and which test to use
- If you are well enough to stay home and don’t have risk factors for serious disease, you do not need to test for COVID-19. Stay in communication with your medical provider.
- To help make a diagnosis of COVID-19, you may use a PCR or antigen test.
- If a test is required to return to work, only use an antigen test. PCR tests can stay positive even when you are no longer infectious.
There is specific guidance for certain people including health care workers and students. Check with your employer or school.
* Unvaccinated, Age > 65, comorbidities
** Longer if hospitalized or immunocompromised