Get Free COVID-19 Tests for Thanksgiving

Oregon State University will hold free testing for students living in Corvallis and Bend on Nov. 16 as part of an ongoing public health initiative to make testing as widely-available as possible, according to the Daily Barometer. 

The program, TRACE-OSU, conducts testing and contact tracing for the university to establish the prevalence of COVID among the university’s faculty, staff, and students. The program has completed over 7,000 tests, according to assistant professor of research Justin Sanders. 

In addition to weekly surveillance testing through TRACE-OSU, OSU students who live in the Corvallis or Bend areas will be invited to obtain a free [COVID-19] test the week of Nov. 16,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dan Larson said.  

Door-to-door testing through the program occurs in Corvallis, Bend, Newport, and Hermiston. 

“TRACE-OSU uses the supervised self-collection of nasal swabs from OSU community members. We then use a type of test called a nucleic acid amplification test (or NAAT),” Sanders told the Baro. “More specifically, this is a test that uses reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to amplify and detect pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome.” 

Students will receive an invitation to be tested through a QR code which applies to the TRACE website, and results for participants will be available by Nov. 24. 

Professor at the Global Health Program Dr. Chunhuei Chi said “the RT-PCR is so far the most accurate form of testing antigens, and tests whether the person is currently infected.” Because of the mass-production of these kits, the accuracy may range between 95% and 99%, according to Chi. 

“By quality, we are concerned about two issues; false negative and false positive. The high-quality kits will have 99% or higher accuracy, and the poorer quality ones will have below 95%, therefore a higher chance of showing false negative or false positive,” Chi said to the Baro. 

There are two separate antibody tests which determine whether or not a given person was infected over the past several days or the past several months. The Benton County Health Department uses data and test results from the program to analyze the local prevalence of the disease. 

The TRACE program also conducts COVID testing of Corvallis wastewater systems and on a scale of “low to strong,” the city touts a low prevalence, according to the report.  

Corvallis testing locations are at the Reser Stadium ticket booths and in Johnson Hall Plaza next to Kelley Engineering Center. 

Rite Aid drug stores also offer free COVID testing to residents of California, Oregon, and Washington through Project Baseline, a community-based testing initiative. There is a Rite-Aid store at 2080 NW 9th Street in Corvallis for those interested. 

By Gabriel Perry