Seven more COVID-19 cases in Clark County as testing increases

There have been no new deaths reported since Monday

CLARK COUNTY — UPDATE: More information added from The Vancouver Clinic on their expanded testing efforts.

Seven more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Clark County, bringing the area’s confirmed case count to 265, according to data released by public health.

The total number of fatalities due to the outbreak remains at 15, unchanged since Monday.

Twenty people remain hospitalized with the virus, unchanged from Wednesday, with eight in intensive care, up from seven yesterday.

Demographically, the outbreak in Clark County continues to impact women more than men, with 154 of the confirmed cases. 

During a virtual town hall meeting with lawmakers from Vancouver’s 49th District on Wednesday, Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said the gender disparity may be due, in part, to who is getting tested.

“For example healthcare workers,” Melnick says, “are more likely to be female than male.”

For reasons not yet fully understood, the virus seems to impact men more strongly than women. 13 of the 15 deaths have been in men, most over the age of 70.

For more details on the outbreak, check out the county’s webpage on the novel coronavirus.

More testing being done

In a positive sign, the number of newly confirmed cases has remained steady, or even decreased each day, even as the availability of testing continues to increase.

“A lot more point of care testing is available,” says Melnick, referring to new rapid tests that can provide a negative result in as little as 15 minutes. “Not all the negatives are getting reported, so those percentages will become a lot less reliable.”

For Legacy Health, testing is available at their GoHealth Urgent Care clinics, both on-site and drive-through. Patients still need to be screened through a virtual visit in order to obtain a testing appointment. Those can be scheduled by visiting https://www.gohealthuc.com/northwest/virtualvisit.

Kaiser Permanente says they are seeing slight improvements in supplies for testing, but are still forced to limit availability mainly to frontline healthcare workers, first responders, patients in skilled nursing facilities or those in the hospital. Beyond that, you are more likely to get approval for a test if you are over 65, have certain chronic medical conditions, have worsening symptoms consistent with COVID-19, are pregnant, or a caregiver for someone who is immunocompromised.

Kaiser is also providing testing and treatment for COVID-19 at no cost to members.

Patients who obtain approval from a physician for testing will be sent to a Kaiser clinic in the area. Currently, the only clinic in Vancouver doing testing is Cascade Park. Others are in Portland, Beaverton, or Longview.

PeaceHealth Southwest says they are still evaluating the potential for drive-through testing locations, but are still experiencing a shortage of testing supplies.

“As more testing kits and laboratory options are becoming available, we are exploring every viable option for increasing testing in our communities,” their website reads. “However, with national shortages of COVID-19 test kits and PPE, we are determining how and when these testing sites could best serve the needs of our communities while also aligning with our overall emergency response plan.”

The Vancouver Clinic is also increasing testing capacity, at their Columbia Tech Center and Ridgefield locations, with supplies and staffing to process 1,900 tests per week utilizing Abbott ID NOW laboratory instruments. They do not currently have drive-through testing available, but are considering adding it in the future.

Currently, tests for COVID-19 must be ordered at the discretion of a Vancouver Clinic healthcare provider. After completing a video or office visit, the provider may choose to order a test if symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) or if there is known or suspected exposure to COVID-19.

Patients need to call ahead (360) 882-2778 or schedule a video visit through MyChart.

“In an effort to protect those serving on the front line during this pandemic, we have partnered with local first responder agencies to test their staff,” the provider said in a statement. “In addition, in collaboration with Clark County Public Health, Vancouver Clinic started collecting specimens at local skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and residential care homes so that residents of those communities do not need to leave their home for testing.”

Facility residents and first responders do not need to be established Vancouver Clinic patients in order to receive testing.

Statewide, the number of confirmed cases is at 10,783 as of Wednesday evening, with 567 deaths. 8.7 percent of 124,283 tests have come back positive for COVID-19.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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