A $4.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will expand opportunities for free COVID-19 testing in the Hermiston area.

Local organizations, including Umatilla Electric Cooperative, are partnering with University of Oregon to provide free drive-thru testing sites twice a month through the end of August. The program is meant to counteract disparities in preventing COVID-19 spread in underserved Latino communities in Oregon, according to a news release.

Tests will be available every first and third Saturday of the month through Aug. 21. at Umatilla High School (1400 Seventh St. in Umatilla) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Atkinson Staffing (80796 N. Highway 395 in Hermiston) from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tests will be available every second and fourth Sunday of the month from Saturday, Feb. 13, through Aug. 28 at Umatilla Electric Cooperative (750 W. Elm Ave. in Hermiston) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Stanfield Elementary (1120 N. Main St. in Stanfield) starting Feb. 27 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Increased COVID-19 testing is designed to track and prevent the spread of the virus by alerting people who may be contagious but not showing symptoms that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, allowing them to quarantine before spreading the virus further.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect a newly announced start date for the testing site in Stanfield.

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