Health experts from Oregon State University will be conducting door-to-door COVID-19 testing in Hermiston on Saturday, July 25, and Sunday, July 26.

According to a news release from the city of Hermiston, the trained field staff will have Oregon State University and Oregon Health Authority credentials and will be visiting randomly selected homes throughout the weekend. All residents of each home selected will be given the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the study, which is designed to gather broader data about the spread of COVID-19 in a community.

Participants will be asked to sign a consent form and answer a few questions, then will be asked to swab the inside of their nose in their home while the field staff waits outside for them to place the sample outside their front door for collection.

The project is known as Team-Based Rapid Assessment of Community Level Coronavirus Epidemics (TRACE) and acts in coordination with OSU, OHA, and Umatilla County Public Health. The team has previously conducted studies in Bend, Corvallis and Newport.

According to the news release, results will be sent to participants by email or mail in about 10 days. The information will also be used by researchers to get a better idea of how prevalent COVID-19 is in Hermiston.

“TRACE and this weekend’s event are not affiliated with the city of Hermiston, and no city resources are being used in this effort,” the city stated. “The city is sharing this information to help improve participation and the validity of the results.”

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Hermiston had two new worksites on Oregon Health Authority’s weekly list of workplace outbreaks of COVID-19, released each Wednesday.

To protect privacy, OHA only names worksites with 30 or more employees, where at least five cases have been linked to the site. The case count includes employees who tested positive, and close contacts of employees who plausibly could have contracted the virus from the employee, given the timeline of symptoms for both parties.

According to the July 15 report, the Hermiston Walmart Distribution Center has had 15 cases linked to it, with the investigation into the cases starting on June 30. Marlette Homes had five cases linked to it, with an investigation started July 8.

In response to a question about how Walmart was handling the outbreak at its distribution center, the company sent a video of Walmart’s executive vice president of Supply Chain, Greg Smith, explaining safety measures the company takes to protect distribution center workers from COVID-19. Those measures include temperature checks for everyone entering the center, masks, sanitation and social distancing.

Marlette sent an emailed statement that once they learn an employee tested positive, they notify all team members at that location, and instruct those who had close contact with the person to follow CDC guidelines for close contacts. The company said it also has general safety protocols in place, including daily temperature screenings, sanitation and face coverings.

“We wish our team members a quick recovery,” the email stated. “We will continue to keep our team informed as we learn more about the current cases.”

As of July 21, Umatilla County Public Health reported 11 deaths and 1,348 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Fourteen Umatilla County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of July 21.

The county’s ninth and 11th deaths both took place in Regency Hermiston Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, according to a news release from UCo Health on July 21. The county did not provide information about the 10th death.

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