Free COVID-19 testing events begin Monday

By on Saturday, February 20th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – People can help lower Pendleton’s positivity rate and move the zip code and the county closer to reopening. The most recent percentage of those testing for COVID-19 was at 10.3 percent in Umatilla County. It has to be under five percent for schools to reopen to all grades. St. Anthony Hospital wants to do something about that, so it’s partnered with the Oregon Health Authority to test more residents.

“Every Monday starting Feb. 22 and all the way through March, from 9 a.m. until noon, people can come down to the Pendleton Convention Center and get a COVID test., Communications Director Emily Smith said.

County officials believe the positivity rate is so high because most of the people who get tested have either been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms.

“As you can imagine, if we’re only testing people who have been exposed or who are symptomatic, it’s really difficult to get that percent positive number down,” Smith said.

The drive-through testing events are free. The tests are self-administered nasal swabs, but not the one that goes deep into the nostrils. Results are back within 24 to 48 hours.

People have voiced the concern that if more people are tested, COVID cases will increase. That’s not the case.

“Actually, it’s the opposite of that,” Smith said. “We’re hoping to increase the number of negative tests,” she said.

People can register for the test at Smith said pre-registration is not required. Necessary information can be taken at the event itself and there are no appointments to be scheduled.

What: Free COVID-19 tests

When: Every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon from Feb. 22 through March 29.

Where: Pendleton Convention Center, 1601 Westgate

Photo: St. Anthony Hospital Communications Director Emily Smith