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Linn County to provide free COVID-19 tests
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Linn County to provide free COVID-19 tests

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Linn County residents can get free COVID-19 tests from 7 a.m. to noon every Monday in November and December at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, according to Public Health Director Todd Noble.

And beginning Dec. 4, tests will also be available from 1 to 7 p.m. on Fridays at the fairgrounds, 3700 Knox Butte Road E. in Albany.

People should enter the fairgrounds at the livestock entrance on the west side of the complex.

“Everyone is welcome,” Noble said. “It doesn’t matter if they have symptoms or not.”

Noble said the test is “much less invasive” than previous tests that required a long nasal swab.

Noble said test results should be available in two to three days.

“We also have rapid tests and we can get results in 15 minutes, but they aren’t as reliable,” Noble said. “We are using those where there may be an outbreak at a congregate site, group homes, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, churches and businesses.”

People can register for test appointments at www.doineedacovid19test.com. One person is allowed per appointment, and each person must register individually.

The tests are drive-through and are self-administered.

They are free to all and no insurance is required, Noble emphasized.

In a letter to Linn County staff members, Noble noted, “The key to successfully mitigating the effects of COVID-19 in Linn County lies in the early detection and quarantining of COVID-19 positive individuals. With the available BinaxNow rapid test kits and PCR test kits, we are able to implement this approach in combating COVID-19 throughout Linn County.”

Linn County is also providing free N95 face masks and hand sanitizers at every Linn County office, Noble said.

“People can come into any of our buildings and pick up some masks and sanitizers free,” Noble said. “We have boxes of them at our office on the second floor of the Courthouse Annex at 315 4th Ave. SW.”

Noble said 35 to 40% of people who may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 will not participate in contact tracing.

Noble said he is “pleading” with community members to respond to contact tracing calls from the Public Health Department.

“We know some people are afraid that we will turn them in to the police or ICE,” Noble said. “We will not. We only want to identify where cases are and ask people to quarantine if necessary.”

Noble added, “We can only be successful if we get people to buy in and answer phones. If you get a call from the Health Department, please help us out. We are doing the best we can to protect our communities and we know people are frustrated by the two-week freeze restrictions, but the virus is exploding everywhere.”

Noble said that Oregon has “done better than the vast majority of states in terms of cases and deaths. We know everyone is tired, fatigued, but it looks like vaccines may be available very soon. The light is at the end of the tunnel. It would be a shame to have people let their guard down now.”

On Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,099 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths, bringing the total to 788 deaths statewide.

Linn and Benton counties again had double-digit cases, with 30 and 13, respectively.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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