PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Earlier this month when Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the federal government would be sending tens of thousands of rapid antigen tests to the state, FOX 12 learned they would go first to vulnerable communities.
Now, we’re approaching the holidays, and many people are wondering where you can get one of them. But health experts say we shouldn’t be thinking this way.
“I think the message is still to try and stay as safe as possible,” Dr. Donna Hansel, the Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at OHSU, said. “If you can hold off on seeing friends and family members, do that.”
Though it’s not what most of us want to hear, virtual holidays are still the safest way to go.
If you must see friends and family, Hansel encourages doing it outside while wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
Remember, a negative COVID-19 test of any kind is not a golden ticket, and it's not all you need to do in order to be safe to see people outside your household.
“Different tests have different rates of false negatives," Hansel said. "Some of these rapid antigen tests, for example, it’s pretty clear that if you’re negative by one of those tests … we really do need to follow you. It’s not a guarantee that you are negative.”
A Multnomah County Health Department spokesperson says the federal Department of Health and Human Services has already distributed a number of test kits to long term care facilities in the county.
As far when the rapid antigen tests might become more widely available, the county health department is carefully exploring the new test technology first before deciding how and where the rapid antigen test should be used to best serve the needs of the community.
“It is our job to carefully explore each new test technology," Kim Toevs, communicable disease director for Multnomah County Health Department, said in an email. "Few have been through the normal thorough FDA approval. Most have a lower threshold for the Emergency Use Agreement. It's the due diligence we do with any new test technology."
The Multnomah County Health Department was offered 5,000 rapid antigen tests from the Oregon Health Authority to start. Multnomah County’s communications coordinator, Kate Yeiser, said they ordered 120 this week so staff can begin to familiarize themselves with them.
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