LA GRANDE — Public health in Union County is backing off testing for COVID-19.

And data on the number of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 — both at the local and state level — is likely to see a delay moving forward. That’s according to a press release from the Center for Human Development, La Grande, which reported it will temporarily suspend testing and testing clinics.

Demand for COVID-19 testing has increased across the state and nation in the past three weeks, according to the press release, which has “surpassed the abilities for the laboratories to process and release results as expected.”

The center now will limits its testing to individuals identified through investigations or individuals that meet Oregon State Public Health Lab criteria. The center is “experiencing significant delays in receiving lab results on previous tests,” the press release stated.

The center encouraged individuals interested in getting a test for the coronavirus to contact a primary care provider at other locations in the community.

CHD also anticipates a national shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies and points to highly populated states where there have been surges in cases — California, Florida and Texas — partly behind the reason supplies could be affected throughout Oregon. The nation has more than 3 million cases of COVID-19, and has consistently seen the reporting of the number of positive test results increase by at least 500,000 a day.

More than 40 million tests have been conducted nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oregon already had one of the lowest testing rates in the nation. The state has conducted more than 300,000 tests, but at 7.1% had a per capita rate ahead of only Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Hawaii.

To date, Union County has 369 cases of COVID-19, and CHD reported no new cases Sunday or Monday. CHD has reported 46 individuals have recovered from the illness, and two have died, leaving 321 active cases.

The county saw a surge in testing in the wake of last month’s outbreak, but the number of results processed has slowed down in recent weeks. There have been 1,854 negative tests in the county, putting the positive test rate at about 16.6%.

The county still has the highest per capita total of COVID-19 cases in the state at 1.43%, but has been passed by Malheur County in terms of overall cases as it has surged to 400. There are 20 counties with at least 100 cases, nine counties with 300 or more, and five — including neighboring Umatilla County — with at least 1,000.

Oregon Health Authority also is planning to cease its efforts to call those with positive cases to assess their status and report recoveries, a task it did on a weekly basis, according to the press release from the Center for Human Development. The state is making the change because of the increase in the number of cases across Oregon.

This means, in part, the number of recoveries reported may not be reflective of the overall recovery rates, the CHD said.

The statewide count moved past 12,000 on Sunday, with close to 65% of those being reported since the start of June. The state has conducted about 60% of its tests in that time. The Oregon Health Authority on Monday reported 280 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 12,438.

The virus also claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 237.

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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