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COOS COUNTY — While Coos Health and Wellness is seeing progress in current testing for the novel coronavirus, more "robust testing" is the goal.

“There will always, until we don’t have to worry about COVID-19, be a need for robust testing,” said Eric Gleason of Coos Health and Wellness on Friday afternoon. “But as far as just testing in general, I feel like we’ve made strides in the last week to keep moving us in the right direction. Are we there yet? I don’t believe so, but we’re making progress.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Coos Health and Wellness reported 658 coronavirus tests throughout the county. Currently there are 594 negatives tests, 43 pending and 21 positive cases. All 21 positive cases have been associated with Shutter Creek Correctional Institution.

Nineteen adults in custody have tested positive at the local facility in addition to two employees. Last week, two of the individuals who tested positive were released from Shutter Creek upon the completion of their sentences. One of the adults was released into Coos County and one to Douglas County according to the Department of Corrections.

Coos Health and Wellness stated that they have been in contact with all individuals that have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We have a great relationship with them, a two-way line of communication. I actually just called one this morning to check in on her and things are going good,” said Liz Vinyard of Coos Health and Wellness.

On Friday morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown introduced a plan for more testing and contact tracing around the state, all in an effort to reopen the state safely.

“As we look to reopen Oregon, it’s critical we understand the prevalence of COVID-19 across the state and use science and data to ensure we can safely take steps forward," said Governor Brown in a press release. “A strategy of testing and tracing helps us identify who has the disease and who may be at risk of infection — knowledge that is incredibly powerful as we look to reopen."

Later in the day, it was unclear what those changes will mean to testing in Coos County.

“It’s kind of like standing on a beach and watching a surfer,” said Gleason on Governor Brown’s statement. “You see the surf start and you see the ride begin and you just kind of wait for it to get to you. I mean, honestly, we hear the things from Salem and based on the guidance and then we play ball for how it works in the community and how it’s going to evolve. It’s a process and it’s going to take us a little bit to understand the implications of that statement … for rural areas like ours.”

What Gleason was clear on was the same points the Governor had stressed, which were key benchmarks going forward. This included declining growth rate of active cases, sufficient personal protective equipment, hospital surge capacity, robust testing, tracing and isolation strategies, and strategies that work for the hardest hit and most vulnerable populations.

“I think we have pretty significant progress as far as our testing goes within the community,” said Gleason. “North Bend Medical (Center) has been spearheading some things. We’ve all been in contact and coordinating what the next steps look like and we’re all trying to look ahead.”

Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at worldsports2@countrymedia.net.

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