By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Lab error skews positive rate too low

Mistake at local facility discovered during routine reviews, OHA says

The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Yamhill County, and statewide, between April 30 and June 10, was higher than reported because a lab in the county was providing duplicate negative test results, the Oregon Health Authority said on Friday.

The OHA said in a press release that it had identified 19,992 duplicate negative electronic lab reports from the unidentified lab in Yamhill County during “routine data quality assurance reviews,” and removed them from the system.

Neither the OHA nor county Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin responded to questions from the News-Register by press time.

The OHA is now reporting that the county’s cumulative total of positive test results is 5% and the statewide rate is 5.7%.

It said there have been 149,300 negative test results in the county and 7,783 positive results. Those do not match the total number of people reported with COVID-19 because some people are tested multiple times, and because presumptive cases are included in the total case numbers.

On Monday, the county reported 12 new cases of COVID-19, over Saturday, Sunday and Monday, bringing the county to a total to date of 4,752. Of those, 78 are presumptive, meaning they are people who have been exposed to a confirmed case and are now showing symptoms themselves, but have not yet been tested.

There have been 79 deaths in the county.

As of June 13, the county reports, 58.3% of eligible people 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Oregon has said it will lift all mask requirements when 70% of eligible people 18 and older are vaccinated, although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks and practice social distancing. Governor Kate Brown on Friday said she is planning to follow CDC guidelines, but did not explain the discrepancy. She said she is waiting to see if the CDC changes its guidelines. State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said that people who are not vaccinated should consider voluntarily wearing a mask and limiting their social activities, and repeatedly urged people to get vaccinated.

Brown said that vaccinations among African Americans, American Indians, Latinos and Alaska Natives have increased in recent weeks, calling the development as a step toward closing the vaccination gap.

Sidelinger warned that, although being infected with COVID-19 produces some level of immunity, it does not appear to produce as strong a response as the vaccine.


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