PORTLAND-Oregon Health & Science University, in collaboration with the State of Oregon and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, will conduct a statewide study to track, test and precisely map the COVID-19 virus in real time.

The Key to Oregon research study, announced today by Gov. Kate Brown, will enroll 100,000 randomly selected Oregonians to voluntarily provide data that can be used to inform decision making at the county, regional and state level. The study’s goal is to help get people back to school and work faster, while effectively managing the potential for future COVID-19 outbreaks.

While Oregon’s success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 was critical, it means that very few community members have acquired immunity to the virus. By removing public health sanctions too quickly, and without proper monitoring, the state is at heightened risk of a “second wave” of infections.

“By gathering reliable data, we will replace fears of COVID-19 with facts about how and where we can contain this disease,” says Gov. Kate Brown. 

OHSU researchers will track the temperatures and other COVID-19 symptoms of all 100,000 study participants. The information gleaned from this study will be applied broadly across the state in real time.

Study participants will be selected at random to represent the state’s ethnic, socioeconomic and geographically diverse population..

All test results will be reported to the Oregon Health Authority to assist with contact tracing and home isolation of those with positive tests. Contact tracing identifies individuals who may have come into contact with an infected person to heighten awareness of COVID-19 symptoms and initiate measures to limit disease spread in their household and the community.

This study will include:

Gathering data about the virus in Oregon to determine the relationship between easing physical distancing measures and resurgence of COVID-19 transmission.

Identify new COVID-19 cases at their earliest stages, enabling swift contact tracing and isolation to help control the spread of the disease.

Provide early warnings of emerging virus “hotspots,” to allow control with contact tracing and isolation for control of virus spread, which hopes to prevent the need to reinstitute community-wide physical distancing measures.

Identify asymptomatic individuals and outbreaks, a significant but otherwise invisible factor in the spread of COVID-19.

Focus special attention on high-risk populations and underserved communities to ensure that no groups will be left out or left vulnerable as our society emerges from this pandemic.

An initial investment of $6,000,000 has been committed by the State of Oregon to help fund this study. OHSU and the Governor are actively seeking additional funding through public and private partnership.

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