The state of Oregon has been testing, on average, 10 to 20 coronavirus kits per day statewide, said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the health officer and epidemiologist at the Oregon Health Authority, during a press conference on Thursday.
The state has the capacity to test 80 kits per day in its lab, Sidelinger said, meaning it is testing at roughly 12.5 to 25 percent of its capacity.
So far, Oregon has received 1,500 coronavirus test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, the OHA has tested 48 people statewide. Thirteen test results are still pending.
The Oregon Health Authority announced Thursday night that it wouldn't be able to provide its daily update on test results until Friday morning due to a delay caused by a "large volume of samples submitted to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory."
Sidelinger said that if every person with COVID-19 symptoms got tested, Oregon's lab system could become quickly overwhelmed. He says the state is expecting to implement expanded commercial testing in the next week or two.
Still, it is unclear why state health officials have tested so few people compared to the amount they are already able to—especially since local hospitals want to test more. Oregon doctors are frustrated with the lack of testing kits being made available to them, KGW-TV reported yesterday.
Sidelinger partly attributed the lack of coronavirus kits being tested to the stringent criteria for implementing such tests. He added that the state is working on “refining the process to order tests.”
Sidelinger says the OHA has prioritized testing people who are most at risk for the virus: people who need to be hospitalized because their symptoms are so severe, or those who have been in direct contact with a confirmed case. He noted that the lab is not turning away tests that have been submitted, and that it has tested every kit it's received.
"We know people are scared," Sidelinger said during Thursday's press conference. "We know that there is transmission in the community." He assured reporters that the state is doing everything it can to test the people in the most danger of having coronavirus.