Weekly Vaccine Report; Don’t Ask Returning COVID-Positive Employees for a Negative Test

Vaccinations continue to climb in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties, with 168 doses administered in the week ending Aug. 28 for a cumulative total of over 26,350 doses.

Wasco County has vaccinated 68.7 percent of those 18 and up, Sherman County 60.4 percent and Gilliam County 46.2 percent.

North Central Public Health District continues to be asked to provide “return to work” COVID tests for people who’ve previously tested positive.

But NCPHD doesn’t recommend it and does not do those types of tests.

That’s because it’s possible for people to shed virus at detectible levels for up to three months after they’re infected, even though they are unlikely to still be infectious, said NCPHD Epidemiologist Jeremy Hawkins.

Studies have not found evidence that clinically recovered people with detected levels of virus have transmitted the disease to others.

“If that’s the strategy employers want to use, their employees might be out for a long time, much longer than is necessary,” Hawkins said.

He added, “NCPHD’s testing capacity has been strained during the latest surge. Generally, the CDC does not recommend a test-out strategy for ending isolation, so we are focusing our resources on people who are recommended to be tested: those who currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, and who have not yet tested positive themselves.”

Following CDC guidance, NCPHD advises that people who test positive can end isolation if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset, and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since fever has ended without use of fever reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

Vaccinations are available at every local pharmacy on a walk-in basis, at local doctor’s offices, One Community Health and at NCPHD. Call NCPHD at 541-506-2600 to book an appointment. Wasco County residents get a

$50 VISA card for the first dose while supplies last. Local pharmacies put stickers on vaccine cards, which must then be taken to NCPHD to get the gift card.

(For more information, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon, contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600, visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org or find us on Facebook.)