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TRACE field staff member holding manilla envelopes with TRACE stickers on them.

Fifth round of Corvallis TRACE-COVID-19 sampling postponed again as smoke persists

By Steve Lundeberg

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is again postponing its fifth round of door-to-door sampling in Corvallis for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 because of continuing poor air quality caused by wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.

The sampling, originally set for Sept. 12 and 13 and then tentatively rescheduled for Sept. 15, 16 and 17, was pushed back Monday. A new set of dates later in September will be determined and promoted.

As scheduled, TRACE researchers with the OSU College of Engineering continued to take wastewater samples in Corvallis on Sept. 12 and 13 to analyze for genetic signals of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19.

OSU researchers have conducted weekly testing of Corvallis community wastewater since May. Genetic evidence of the virus consistently has been detected at moderate levels for the past month following a late July spike, according to Oregon State researchers.

When door-to-door sampling can safely resume, TRACE field workers will invite members of each household they visit to participate in the study. Those who choose to take part will be asked to provide information such as their name and date of birth; fill out a simple consent form; and answer a few confidential, health-related questions.

Participants will be given a nasal-swab test kit that they administer to themselves inside their home and to their minor children if they want them to take part. The field staff will wait outside, and the participants will leave the completed test kits outside their front door.

The field workers will leave participants with information about the project and how they will receive their results – available in seven to 10 days – as well as health guidance from the Benton County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants in the effort will receive their results and those of their minor children by secure email with receipt by United Parcel Service delivery as a backup. Personal information will be safeguarded.

The TRACE project is a collaboration of five OSU colleges – Science, Agricultural Sciences, the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, and Public Health and Human Sciences – plus the OSU Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing. The project works in partnership with the Benton County Health Department in Corvallis and other county health departments around the state.

The diagnostic testing component of TRACE operates through a partnership between the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which is located at OSU, and Willamette Valley Toxicology.

The public health surveillance project has received funding from OSU, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, PacificSource Health Plans and the Oregon Health Authority and has been aided by work from the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association.

For more information about TRACE, visit the TRACE-COVID-19 website. The site includes a list of frequently asked questions.

This story was originally posted by the Oregon State University newsroom.