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First Multnomah County resident tests positive for COVID-19

Producers and Editors: Dr. Jennifer Vines, lead health officer for the tri-county region, will be available for interviews today (March 10) from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Multnomah County Health Department, 619 NW 6th Ave., in Portland. 

Call Kate Willson to schedule.

March 10, 2020

The Oregon Health Authority today announced Multnomah County’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The new case brings Oregon’s total to 15 cases in seven counties.

OHA and Multnomah County are working to identify and isolate any individuals who may have been in close contact with the person in the last 14 days.

This case is being treated at Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The individual had no known contact with a confirmed case, and had not traveled from a country where the virus is circulating, so the case is being investigated as a community-acquired case.

“I can only imagine the concern among the family and friends of this person,” said Jennifer Vines, M.D., lead health officer for the tri-county region. “I’m asking you, as my neighbors and as my community, to keep this individual and their loved ones in your thoughts. And let us all do what we can to minimize the number of other people who must go through this.”

Health officials continue to urge all Oregonians to take steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

Those considered “high risk” include adults 60 and older, or anyone with a serious health condition, including lung or heart problems, kidney disease, or diabetes, or anyone who has a suppressed immune system.

People vulnerable to complications should follow federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings.

Every resident should take these basic steps to protect those most at risk:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you feel ill.

The COVID-19 virus spreads like the flu, when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes close to another person (close means about six feet).

After someone contracts COVID-19, illness usually develops within 14 days. Symptoms mirror those of the flu, including fever, cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat and general feelings of illness. That has made it more difficult for health officials to identify sick individuals and stop the virus from spreading.

As testing capacity increases — with Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics online, and clinical laboratories at some Oregon hospitals expected to begin testing by next week — officials expect the number of people who test positive with COVID-19 to rise. Also on Tuesday the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory received eight additional testing kits from the CDC, which allows for testing of up to 4,800 people.

“We are not going to isolate and quarantine our way out of this pandemic,” Dr. Vines said. “We are working with our partners on mass gathering guidance, at schools, places where people gather and mix, to spread people out.

“We are not talking anymore about stopping the spread of this virus,” she said. “Without a vaccine and without medicine, our best bet as a community is to slow the spread so those who do get seriously ill can get the care they need from our health system.”

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 Media contacts

Jonathan Modie

OHA External Relations


Kate Willson

Multnomah County


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