Oregon State University says its TRACE project has tested more than sixty-thousand people for COVID-19 since it started one year ago.
Researchers from the TRACE program have collected coronavirus test samples by going door-to-door in six Oregon cities. They’ve also tested extensively on OSU’s three campuses, and analyzed wastewater in dozens of Oregon communities.
The idea behind the project is to give public officials and community members a better picture of how prevalent the coronavirus is in their region.
OSU spokesperson Steve Clark said he can remember the first time TRACE workers went into the Corvallis community near the beginning of the pandemic.“We had people stopping their cars, they were biking, and they said ‘I know what you’re doing.’ They honked their horns and saluted. Some clapped and said thank you,” he said.
Clark said the idea grew from a desire to use the university's knowledge and technical resources in the fight against COVID-19.
"Oregon State University faculty said 'We can make a difference,'" he said. "'We can inform our local community residents throughout the state of Oregon as to the prospects of their viral health.'"
The one-year anniversary comes as TRACE researchers announced that their analysis shows that a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 from South Africa has been found in the wastewater systems of both Albany and Corvallis. The South African variant spreads roughly 50 percent faster than the original virus, according to the CDC. The agency also says the variant may have increased resistance against vaccines. OSU says mutations consistent with the variant were discovered in wastewater samples taken in late March and early April.