Samaritan testing for COVID-19 in Depoe Bay

A tent and bus on the parking lot at Samaritan Health Services’s Depoe Bay clinic will serve as a temporary testing center for those ordered by their physician to be tested for COVID-19. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp)

DEPOE BAY — Samaritan Health Services is conducting prescription-only tests for the novel coronavirus outside its clinic in Depoe Bay.

A Samaritan bus is parked outside the clinic, and a tent has been erected for patients referred by their physicians to be tested, who must remain in their cars.

Samaritan is also setting up temporary COVID-19 testing centers in Linn and Benton Counties.

Testing at these temporary locations will be done with a clinician’s order only. Overall, testing is being prioritized for patients older than 60 years of age, those involved in an illness cluster in a facility or institution, health care workers and patients in public safety occupations like law enforcement and firefighters, and patients hospitalized with a lower respiratory illness.

Those experiencing coronavirus symptoms — fever, cough and/or shortness of breath — must call their primary care provider to be assessed and routed to appropriate care. Anyone who shows up without an order or an appointment will be turned away.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that Oregon has entered into a new agreement with a private laboratory to increase the state’s capacity to test for COVID-19. Quest Diagnostics will supply the state with 20,000 tests. Oregon’s testing capacity has thus far been severely limited. Only about 1,500 patients have been tested since the outbreak first reached the state, with the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory only able to test 80 specimens a day. Hospitals have also been submitting samples to various private laboratories.

The Oregon Health Authority confirmed 10 new positive cases on Wednesday and another 13 on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 88. Four of those cases are in counties adjacent to Lincoln. Benton County has reported two patients positive for the coronavirus, as has Lane County, one of whom died from the illness. OHA reported two coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to three.

The OHA also announced on Thursday the establishment of the Oregon Medical Station, in cooperation with the Oregon Military Department, beginning March 20. The station will be a temporary mobile facility at the Salem Fairgrounds with beds, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment to support 250 patients and will be staffed 24 hours a day.