Samaritan Health Services is making changes to mask guidance for all patients and visitors to its facilities, along with changes to who can be tested for COVID-19 at locations. point of the Samaritan.

The changes that come as the omicron variant of the coronavirus leads to record cases are burdening hospital systems across Oregon.

With growing concern about aerosol spread of COVID-19, new guidance suggests N-95s should be worn in high-risk situations, but experts say cloth masks still have a place and New production standards are improving quality.

One of the biggest changes is the type of mask or face protection required. Now, all patients and visitors must wear a medical mask, also known as a surgical mask or a surgical mask, according to a Samaritan news release.

N95 or KN95 masks are also acceptable, but bandanas, gala, face coverings and regular cloth masks are no longer sufficient. Acceptable masks will be made available on-site for those who do not have them, according to the statement.

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Changes to testing and availability requirements are also part of the Samaritan news.

For now, COVID-19 testing will be limited to symptomatic or known patients with coronavirus exposure. Testing will be available by appointment only starting Tuesday, January 11 until further notice at testing sites in Albany, Corvallis and Lebanon.

These changes come just a week after Mid-Valley Media published a story about COVID-19 testing availability in Linn and Benton counties. At the time of publication, Samaritan officials estimated it had enough test kits on hand to continue with current volumes for a few months.

Jane Russell, executive director of Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport and supervisor of the organization’s COVID-19 testing supplies.

“Yes, we have a lot of supply, but the problem we are facing is the sheer volume of testing being done at the test centers. … It has nothing to do with the testing supplies themselves,” she said in a follow-up interview.

More than 200 people are being tested each day at mid-valley testing sites, she estimates, though that number cannot be confirmed ahead of time.

She added: “And, to be honest, we have people come in and say they’re going to be attending an event of some sort this weekend. It’s not the kind of test that we consider medically necessary.”

People with symptoms and who believe they need to be tested for COVID-19 can do so by visiting for more information. Those without internet access can call 844-469-2427.

People who want to get tested before events, travel, or just to make sure they’re not infected can follow up for tests at their local pharmacy or at public health screening sites. A complete directory of where testing can be found throughout Oregon is available through the Oregon Health Authority at

Samaritan reiterates that changes occur in response to tall trees.

“These are difficult decisions to make, but with increased omicron variant cases in the region, these changes are necessary to ensure we can provide coronavirus testing to the patients who need it most and as soon as possible to the patient. care,” said Dr. Robert Turngren, medical director of Samaritan Health Services, in the press release.

Troy Shinn covers health care, natural resources, and Linn County government. He can be reached at 541-812-6114 or He can be found on Twitter at @troydshinn.


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