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OSU Vet Lab Gets Approval To Expand COVID-19 Testing

Oregon State University

The federal government has given a veterinary lab at Oregon State University clearance to expand its testing program for COVID-19.

The OSU vet lab normally tests for things like avian flu. In the early weeks of the pandemic, workers there figured out how to pivot to testing for the coronavirus.

Soon, the lab was in high demand. Oregon, like most other states, faced a shortage in testing capacity. But the university had to partner with a private lab since normally the vet lab doesn’t work with human samples.

Now, it  has been fully certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct testing for COVID-19. OSU Assistant Professor Justin Sanders said it’s a big step. “This essentially doubles our capacity for testing.”

Sanders said the veterinary lab has already processed more than 35,000 tests from long-term care facilities, hospitals and drive-thru clinics. And he said the lab can turn around test results in less than 48 hours.

Public health officials say timely test results are key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. “Statewide, we’ve got a really good handle on it overall," said Sanders. "It would be great to see a nationwide coordinated effort.”

The Veterinary Lab will also be involved in testing OSU students, faculty and staff as the fall term gears up. Most classes will be delivered remotely, the but the school is allowing students to live on campus, and is opening the library and some recreational facilities.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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