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March 8, 2020
Health officials work to identify, isolate close contacts to prevent spread
PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon Health Authority (OHA) confirmed seven new presumptive cases of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, today. OHA also announced actions it is taking to slow the spread of the virus and protect Oregonians, in response to Gov. Kate Brown’s emergency declaration.
“We are prepared to activate an unprecedented state and private effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon by focusing specifically on at-risk populations,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “We want to protect Oregonians at greatest risk of the most severe outcomes of this disease, including older adults, people with underlying conditions, people who are homeless and those who are vulnerable in other ways.”
He said the emergency powers Gov. Brown authorized today give OHA more freedom and flexibility to take specific actions to contain the outbreak. These actions include:
- Finalizing agreements with major hospital systems to expand locations where COVID-19 tests can be conducted safely.
- Preparations to mobilize Oregon’s medical reserve corps to provide emergency support for vulnerable populations.
- Expanding telemedicine so patients can be screened, evaluated and treated by health care providers without coming into a clinic or hospital emergency department.
- Convening providers who serve older adults and vulnerable populations to mobilize an aggressive outreach and prevention strategy to protect at-risk people.
- Seeking additional funding to support Oregon’s response efforts.
Oregon’s new COVID-19 cases bring the state’s total number of those who’ve tested positive for the virus to 14. Of the seven new cases, one is in Douglas County, one is in Marion County and five are in Washington County.
“The individuals whose test results we are announcing today are recovering at home or getting the care they need at a hospital,” Allen said. “Contact investigations have begun to identify and isolate anyone who may have been in close contact with these new cases.”
Four of the five new cases in Washington County were contacts of the county’s first three cases and had been under monitoring. The county’s fifth new case had no known contact with a confirmed case. The person also had not traveled from a country where the virus is circulating. Therefore, it is being investigated as a community-acquired case.
The Marion County case had no previous contact with a confirmed case and is suspected of being community spread. The Douglas County case is being investigated as a community-spread case.
The county case count is as follows:
- Jackson: 2
- Klamath: 1
- Umatilla: 1
- Washington: 8
- Douglas: 1
- Marion: 1
Oregon residents who would like more information on COVID-19 can call 211.
Dana Hargunani, M.D., chief medical officer at OHA, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified people most at-risk of severe illness from COVID-19: older adults; people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. She said older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.
Hargunani recommended older adults and people with underlying conditions take the following steps to stay safe and healthy:
- Minimize contact with people who may be ill.
- Avoid large public gatherings.
- Order prescriptions by mail.
- Take daily precautions:
- wash your hands frequently,
- don’t touch anywhere on your face, and
- clean surfaces.
Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. If you are feeling sick with mild symptoms and do not need to seek medical care, stay home while you recover. If you are sick and plan to seek care, please call before going in for care so arrangements can be made to prevent exposing others. For urgent medical needs, call 911; be sure to inform them if you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
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