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CHARLESTON — Those working in the fishing or fish processing industries are being tested for the novel coronavirus.

The effort is being made to hopefully prevent the pandemic from interrupting the time-sensitive fishing industry.

The tests are to be offered on Wednesday and Thursday at no cost. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on both days, there will be a tent set up near the corner of Eel Avenue and Guano Rock Lane where tests will be available.

The Oregon Health Authority is providing the tests and is working with Coos Health and Wellness to perform them. Those who are taking the tests have been asked to bring some sort of identification as proof that they work in the fishing industry.

“We don’t want COVID-19 to interrupt the fishing industry,” stated Coos Health and Wellness in a press release about the testing effort.

The OHA reached out to Coos Health and Wellness last week about making sure this specific group of workers was tested.

“The main reason is because they are a vital part of our food supply and also our economy. If there is an outbreak among the fishing workers' industry then it disrupts the whole supply chain of seafood,” said Phillip Nel of Coos Health and Wellness.

“These guys are in close quarters when they work. Unlike a lot of other industries, it’s not possible to do social separation on a fishing boat.”

Between 600 to 700 tests will be available for fishing industry workers to take over the course of two days.

“It’s only a few minutes," Nel said. "You sit down — and have got to do the paperwork, because if we test you we’ve got to know who to get a hold of also. There’s some paperwork and then the test itself: you sit down and the practitioner will swab you and once that’s done, it’s put in a medium and then in a bag. After that, it goes up to the state lab."

Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at


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