The Q-Tip is 5 inches long. And up the nose it goes.

It may not be fun, but it’s necessary if you want to find out whether you have the coronavirus. Unlike a flu virus, COVID-19 doesn’t live long in the nose. To find out if a patient’s symptoms are caused by COVID-19, you have to swab deep.

KPIC reporter David Ochoa volunteered to be the “patient” for a demonstration Friday of the Douglas Public Health Network’s drive-thru testing at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. While his sample wasn’t saved for testing, he did experience the Q-tip.

Douglas County Public Health Administrator Bob Dannenhoffer took Ochoa’s sample.

“How’d that feel?” he asked afterward.

“Not the greatest feeling in the world,” Ochoa said. He said he has never had anything that far up his nose before, and it made him a little teary eyed.

“It doesn’t really hurt but it is distinctly memorable isn’t it?” Dannenhoffer said.

After the demonstration, real patients drove through, lining up a handful of cars at a time and entering the grandstand area where the tests are performed. The patients kept their windows rolled up until they arrived at the testing station.

Two doctors — Dannenhoffer and Brad Seely — performed the tests. They wore protective suits underneath long blue robes. They wore personal protective equipment that looked like bicycle helmets with long, clear plastic visors covering the whole face.

The helmet has a powered air filter and fan that keeps out 99.7% of matter, compared with 80 to 95% for masks, Dannenhoffer said.

Dannenhoffer said the outfit was comfortable in Friday’s cool weather, but might be less so on a 90-degree day.

The testing is only available for people whose doctors have recommended they be tested.

The collected samples are driven to the Eugene airport and flown to a Quest laboratory in California.

There’s no charge for the drive-thru clinic. The lab charges $199, but most insurance pays the cost and the governor has assured Oregonians they won’t have to foot the bill.

Vanessa Becker, spokeswoman for DPHN, said the swabs used in the testing are made in Italy and the test tubes in China — two countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care leaders are working on finding supplies in the local community for further testing.

Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said the county’s ahead of other counties in the state in being able to provide drive thru tests.

“It’s a different model of public health care delivery but in this situation it’s proving to be very effective and efficient,” he said.

So far, just one Douglas County resident has tested positive for coronavirus, but results aren’t back yet from the 17 people who participated in the county’s first drive-thru test Tuesday.

How many from that first group will be positive is anybody’s guess, Dannenhoffer said.

“No more than 17 and no fewer than zero,” he said.

Thirty-five COVID-19 samples were collected at the second drive-thru clinic Friday after the initial pilot drive-thru on Tuesday.

Even if some patients are a bit nervous about the procedure, they’re eager to get tested, Dannenhoffer said.

“Most of them want an answer, and the good news is we’re going to be able to get them an answer,” he said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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Health officials in New York, California and other hard-hit parts of the country are restricting coronavirus testing to health care workers and the severely ill, saying the battle to contain the virus is lost and the country is moving into a new phase of the pandemic response. Los Angeles County health officials advised doctors in a letter Thursday to give up on testing patients as a strategy to contain the outbreak, instructing them to test patients only if a positive result could change how they would be treated, the Los Angeles Times reported. The department “is shifting from a strategy of case containment to slowing disease transmission and averting excess morbidity and mortality,” according to the letter.

In an ideal world, public health officials say they should have done wide-scale surveillance testing of people with respiratory symptoms much earlier. But city-by-city and state-by-state, they are nearing — or in some cases have already crossed — the line when they must make touch choices.


This whole affair is overly dramatized. These two doctors look like they're dressed for handling Ebola patients.


So lets publish an article explaining how q-tips work, but nothing about the governor's new stay at home order announced last night? Nice to see where the NR's priorities are right now.

Also if everyone is buying into the same fear and hysteria that Mike obviously has subscribed too with his responses to every article, I'm amazed I haven't seen bodies piled up eveywhere on my way to work this week.

Carisa Cegavske Staff
Carisa Cegavske

We did both.


Check out the pictures and stories from Italy, a country with one eighth the population of the U.S. Many medical experts (not politicians) forecast we are less than 10 days behind them.


Remember too. The testing is only a snapshot of right now. Please. Do not request testing for sniffles. It will likely be negative. A waist of resources and then in two weeks when you have sniffles again you will want tested again. A negative today does not mean you will not get it in the future. So, be smart. Conserve resources. And be tested only when appropriate. High fever and the rest of the symptoms. Also. I recommend having influenza ruled out first. It is still active. If you have influenza. Stay home. If you have common cold. Stay home. Simple.


Why do you keep calling it "drive-thru COVID-19 testing?" No one is actually being tested because Douglas County doesn't have any test kits and the "samples" have to be sent out of state where it takes days and sometimes weeks to get the results once the "samples" are analysed. It's Saturday and we still haven't heard back the results from Tuesday's "drive-thru COVID-19 sampling." The same thing is going on in many other states.

The extended delay on coronavirus test results poses a significant problem. A person may test negative and not have the disease when they were tested on Tuesday. However, that doesn't mean they haven't contracted the disease while they were waiting for the delayed test results.

Currently there are 114 "known" cases of coronavirus in Oregon and 4 deaths. The actual number of Oregon coronavirus cases and deaths is not real. The numbers don't include the number of suspected cases of coronavirus and the number of deaths caused by the disease because there are no test kits to determine the true number. Just because we don't have test kits doesn't mean more people aren't being infected and dying of the disease.

Continuing to belay the facts about the absence of testing (not sampling) does not help people understand the seriousness of this disease. Continuing to do so will only increase the death count once the test kits finally become available.

NR blogger

Yes, I heard on kqen radio that test kits are sent to a Qwest lab out of state. It seems like it could be done more locally,but apparently not.

I really don't believe that there is only one case in Douglas County.


I notice you eliminated the part of the story that previously said Douglas County Public Health Administrator Bob Dannenhoffer claimed test results would be back in two to four days. I guess its easier to sugar-coat the coronavirus pandemic rather than ask Dannenhoffer why its been over 5 days since the first set of tests were taken and still no results have been received.

I also notice you quote Commissioner Freeman when he said "the county’s ahead of other counties in the state in being able to provide drive thru tests," but you failed to question why he said the following during the last Douglas County Commissioners meeting:

1. “There is no call for social distancing.”

2. "There is no call to close events.”

3. “People should go about their lives.”

4. “This virus, like most viruses, will cycle through and we’ll move on to the next thing.”

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