OSU study: 17% of Hermiston residents estimated to have had COVID-19 last weekend

Hermiston Covid 19 Study

HERMISTON, Ore. — Results are in from door-to-door COVID-19 tests conducted in Hermiston last weekend by a team from Oregon State University.

Preliminary results from the TRACE (Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-Level Coronavirus Epidemics) sampling suggest that 17% of the Hermiston community had COVID-19 on July 25-26.

“It certainly was on the high side of our range of expectations,” said Benjamin Dalziel, co-director of the project and assistant professor for the Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Mathematics at Oregon State University.

To conduct the study, 29 teams of two people canvassed 30 neighborhoods in Hermiston. They went to random households and asked if they were willing to be tested.

“Because of that random design, we were able to make scientific estimates of prevalence outside of our participant group…for the whole city,” said Dalziel.

56% of those asked did not want to participate. Of the 471 people in total that were tested, 41 tested positive. 80% of those that tested positive were asymptomatic.

Along with the door-to-door testing, researchers also gathered city wastewater samples. Wastewater can have traces of the virus if it comes from an infected household.

“In this case, the wastewater had significantly higher levels of the virus detected than we’d ever seen previously, and we had significantly higher prevalence in the community from the door-to-door testing than we’d seen previously in other communities,” said Dalziel.

Governor Brown released a statement in response to the results, saying in part, “This study confirms what we have feared based on weeks of troubling data from the Oregon Health Authority: The coronavirus has spread throughout Hermiston and threatens the entire community.”

On Thursday, Gov. Brown reinstated a stay-home order in Umatilla County for at least the next 21 days. That means only essential businesses – like grocery stores – can remain open as of noon on Friday.