OSU to Conduct Corvallis-wide Coronavirus TRACE-COVID Study

To: Members of the OSU Community

From: Edward J. Ray, President

Date: April 16, 2020

Members of the OSU community,

I am writing to announce that this weekend Oregon State University scientists will launch a public health study in Corvallis to determine the community prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

This effort is called TRACE-COVID for short and is among the first of its kind in the nation to understand an entire community’s COVID-19 wellness.

The study is evidence of how OSU faculty, staff, and community and private sector partners are quickly and effectively contributing to multiple efforts to reduce the risk and spread of the virus.

TRACE-COVID will launch in pilot phase on Sunday and beginning April 25 will safely test 960 local residents weekly at their households over four consecutive weekends. The results of the tests will be shared confidentially within 7 to 10 days with those tested and will be provided to the Benton County Health Department. Each week, the aggregate results of each weekend’s sampling will be shared on an OSU website thereby indicating if the prevalence of the virus in Corvallis is growing, staying the same or declining.

Importantly, this study will be among the nation’s first to measure the prevalence of the virus among people who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic. Most commonly now, tests are provided only to symptomatic individuals. With this more comprehensive information, public health and government leaders will be able to better guide efforts they are waging against the virus.

Here is a link to the TRACE-COVID website and a link to a news release being distributed to media nationally today.

We hope that OSU will find additional funding and partners to expand the TRACE-COVID study beyond Corvallis to other communities in Oregon and nationally.

Clearly, this type of information is vitally important – not only in real time data today – but to inform future decisions by Gov. Kate Brown and others to begin to re-open our communities and the state’s economy as social and physical distancing and other measures take hold and substantially reduce the risk of COVID-19.

TRACE-COVID is a joint effort by OSU’s colleges of Science, Public Health and Human Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, and is in partnership with the Benton County Health Department. This effort is aided by a collaboration with Willamette Valley Toxicology Lab in Corvallis, which will run the diagnostic test samples provided by each community participant. The study is being initially funded by OSU and a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and has been aided by collaboration with the OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association.

Please join me in acknowledging the work being done throughout OSU to address the pandemic – and applauding the efforts of the TRACE-COVID team to understand the prevalence of the pandemic virus in the Corvallis community.

I am confident this work will help save lives and contribute to next steps to restore a new normal in our community.


Edward J. Ray