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With 195 new cases reported Sept. 16, state announces new study will look at whether virus is 'spreading silently'

COURTESY PHOTO: CDC - The state will contract with Quest Diagnostics to test people for the COVID-19 virus. OHA announced Sept. 16 the state will also launch a wastewater testing program to examine how the virus spreads in some communities.Oregon has 195 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, Sept. 16.

With those new cases, two more people have died from the virus, including a 70-year-old man in Washington County with no underlying conditions.

According to Oregon Health Authority, he tested positive on July 9 and died nearly two months later at OHSU.

The other fatality was a 70-year-old man in Multnomah County who tested positive back on Aug. 4 and died Sept. 10 at home. OHA reported he had underlying conditions.

The latest COVID-19 deaths bring Oregon's tally to 521, with 29,850 reported cases to-date.

The latest cases were reported in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (10), Clatsop (2), Coos (2), Deschutes (4), Douglas (2), Hood River (1), Jackson (15), Jefferson (5), Klamath (14), Lane (15), Linn (1), Malheur (17), Marion (23), Multnomah (32), Polk (3), Umatilla (2), Union (1), Wallowa (6), Wasco (2), Washington (33) and Yamhill (4).

New wastewater study will help examine spread of COVID-19

In addition to Wednesday's case count update, OHA announced a new COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project that will help state researchers "study the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in more than 40 small- to medium-sized communities around the state."

Most of the wastewater study will be conducted by Oregon State University researchers, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control.

How it will work: Over the next 30 months, wastewater in several commuinities will be tested weekly, allowing epidemiologists to understand how the virus is circulating. OHA says the project will serve as an "early warning system" to tell if COVID-19 is spreading in communities, unbeknownst to most who live there."This program holds promise to help us monitor COVID-19 in our communities," said Melissa Sutton MD, MPH, medical director for respiratory viral pathogens at OHA and a principal investigator for the wastewater study. "We look forward to our partnership with local communities and researchers. Together we hope to better understand the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon."

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