Oregon Health Authority is moving to an opt-in model for investigating some COVID-19 cases, launching a new website and hotline as a way for people who test positive for the virus to report results from an at-home test kit or testing provider.
People using the new Positive COVID Test website and COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, can complete an online survey linked from the web portal to report their positive case, or get help completing the survey through the hotline. They can also get information on isolation and other ways to keep themselves and those around them safe while they recover.
The launch of the services follows an OHA decision to revise its guidelines for investigating COVID-19 cases to focus less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing, and more on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as those in congregate care, health care, K-12 education and food chain industries. Malheur County is following state guidelines, as case counts continue to climb.
Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 19, every household in the United States can order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. This comes at a time when rapid tests are in short supply locally, and mass testing events are not available, while the country sees an unprecedented spike in cases due to the Omicron variant.
To order your at-home tests, visit www.covidtests.gov. If you test positive, call the COVID-19 Case Support Hotline at 866-917-8881 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (times are Mountain Time) for information about isolation, quarantine and possible support.
Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority launched a new website (oregon.gov/positivecovidtest) that includes what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, if you have been exposed, and how to seek resources if you’re isolating at home and need support.
The new COVID-19 Case Support Hotline at 866-917-8881 will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (times are Mountain Time).
The state is also moving to an “opt-in” model for investigating some COVID-19 cases. People can report their positive at-home test result through the online survey linked at oregon.gov/positivecovidtest, or get help completing the survey through the hotline.
While we don’t require individuals to report their at-home test results, we highly recommend people to do so, and to let close contacts know about potential exposure. Hospitals, health care providers, labs and local public health authorities are required to report test results.
In Malheur County, this means people with a positive test result may not hear from a case investigator. Because of the surge in cases, and the new guidance from OHA, Malheur County is prioritizing cases of people who are at high risk, or live or work in high-risk settings, as described below.
Today’s launch follows an OHA decision to revise guidelines for investigating COVID-19 cases to focus less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing, and more on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as those in congregate care, health care, K-12 education and food chain industries.
Starting Nov. 8, 2021, the Oregon Health Plan covers COVID-19 at-home tests for OHP and CAWEM (Citizen/Alien Waived Emergency Medical) members.
OHP and CAWEM members who have signs of COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 can get COVID-19 at-home tests.
The COVID-19 at-home tests do not replace COVID-19 testing done in clinics and labs.
Click here to read more about using COVID-19 at-home tests.
The Malheur County Health Department strongly suggests OHP members talk to their doctor if they have signs of COVID-19 or may have been exposed. A physician will not be able to write a note to your employer or your child’s school if an at-home test result is positive. If you use an at-home test and it is positive, please contact the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.
OHP and CAWEM members can get up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per month without a doctor’s order.
To get more than four tests in a month, OHP and CAWEM members need to get a doctor’s order.
Please contact your PCP if you need more than four at-home tests per month.
All types of COVID-19 at-home tests are covered.
OHP covers all COVID-19 at-home tests that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including COVID-19 at-home tests that require an internet connection or smartphone to read the results.
Pick up COVID-19 at-home tests at a pharmacy or retail store.
Members should bring the COVID-19 at-home test to the pharmacy counter to check out and let the pharmacy know they are an OHP or CAWEM member. Members will not be charged for COVID-19 at-home tests.
Due to limited supplies, not all pharmacies or retail stores may have COVID-19 at-home tests. Members may want to call the pharmacy or retail store to ask if COVID-19 home tests are in stock.
OHP covers at-home tests picked up at the pharmacy counter, not tests purchased online.
Have OHP coverage questions?
If you have questions about OHP coverage for COVID-19 at-home testing:
• Contact your CCO. To find CCO contact information and resources click here.
• If you are not in a CCO, call OHP Care Coordination at 800-562- 4620. Native American and Alaska Native members can also call CareOregon Tribal Care Coordination at 844-847-9320.
Learn more about OHP and CAWEM coverage during COVID-19.
• Click here for more information for OHP CAWEM Members on COVID-19.
• Visit OHP’s COVID-19 page for members for more information. If you don’t have health coverage, apply for OHP today. You can apply online at ONE.Oregon.gov.
• Trained community partners across the state can help you fill out an application. It’s free. Visit OregonHealthCare.gov to find community partners in your area.
Not sure if OHP is right for you?
• Go to OregonHealthCare.gov and answer the screening questions. This will help you find the application that works best for you and your family.
On Jan. 6, the Western States Scientific Review Workgroup joined the CDC in recommending new guidelines for the Pfizer vaccine.
The new guidance, which takes effect in Oregon immediately, says:
Children ages 12-15 can now get a Pfizer booster at least five months after their second dose.
The wait time for a booster dose has been shortened to at least five months after receiving their initial series of the Pfizer vaccine.
Immunocompromised children ages 5-11 can now receive a third primary series dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
It’s more important than ever to get boosted. It is vital in protecting you against severe cases of COVID-19, especially with the Omicron variant spreading so quickly. With just the primary series of vaccines, you’re only 35% protected from Omicron. With a booster, that protection level jumps up to 75%. Boosters take only two to three days to strengthen your immune response.
Where to get a COVID-19 booster
if you have a doctor, ask them first
visit the Malheur County Health Department any Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (no appointment needed)
Contact a local pharmacy to schedule an appointment
Contact a local medical clinic to schedule an appointment
Text ORCOVID to 898211 (English and Spanish) or email ORCOVID@211info.org
Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, toll-free, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain Time) daily, including holidays
Or you can use the vaccine locator tool on OHA’s website, found here.
Wednesdays are Walk-in Wednesday at the Malheur County Health Department. Walk in between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (we close from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch) for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu vaccines, and/or any childhood vaccines your children might need.
Immunizations are available from birth through adulthood to protect against many diseases and preventable outbreaks. Vaccines are required by law for children in attendance at public and private schools, preschools and child care facilities, as well as Head Start programs in Oregon. If your child needs to have a vaccine in order to be up to date before “school exclusion day,” bring them to the Health Department, 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario.
No one is turned away because of inability to pay.
For more information, call our office at 541-889-7279.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Malheur County, and the Health Department urges everyone to be mindful of others as we go about our business, by wearing masks in indoor public spaces, frequent handwashing, get tested at the first sign of symptoms and get vaccinated.
To be tested for COVID-19, contact your primary care physician, your local clinic or pharmacy, or you may be able to find an at-home test in a pharmacy – contact your local pharmacy to ask about availability. Testing sites may be found at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-testing and vaccine sites may be found at https://getvaccinated.oregon.gov. If you have a child who attends a Malheur County school and has symptoms or was exposed to the positive case at school, contact their school, which may have free testing available.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available at local physician’s offices and clinics, pharmacies, the Health Department, and at various vaccine events throughout the county. To stay up-to-date on vaccine events, keep an eye on the MCHD calendar of events.
The Malheur County Health Department currently has several positions open. Two of those will close to applicants Jan. 7, 2022.
Tobacco Prevention and Education Program/Health Equity – see job description here. This full-time, permanent position with benefits requires a person who is self-motivated, goal-oriented and detail focused. *Closes Jan. 7.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness/Community Engagement – see job description here. This full-time, permanent position with benefits requires a person who is self-motivated, goal-oriented and detail focused. *Closes Jan. 7.
Peer Recovery Mentor (three positions open) – see job description here. If you know anyone who is passionate about helping people, who has at least two years in recovery, please refer them to the county website to apply.
Parents who want to get kids vaccinated before they return to school in the new year are encouraged to bring the child to the Malheur County Health Department 1108 SW 4th St., clinic in Ontario, Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. This will be the last of our extended hours clinics.
Beginning next week, every Wednesday will see walk-in vaccination clinics from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Health Department. All childhood vaccines, and most adult vaccines will be available, including all doses of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.