Coronavirus Update

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"If you are an older Oregonian or in the target range of this virus, you should stay home as much as possible. I can't emphasize how dangerous this is."

-Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority Director

"We have not seen anything like this is our lifetime. It is an extreme concern."

-Gov. Kate Brown

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced urgent new rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The following measures are based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon public health experts, epidemiologists, and health professionals.

News Conference

Gov. Brown outlines her new rules to combat the spread of coronavirus in Oregon.

Brown outlined her strategies at a press conference at 9 a.m. Thursday in Portland.

"We must act now," Brown said. "Coronavirus is in our community. We should be prepared. It will have an impact on our lives and our livelihood. We are all facing this together. I will do every in power to keep Oregonians healthy and safe."

The Governor's strategies include:

Large gatherings: All large gatherings over 250 people will be canceled statewide effective immediately for four weeks. A gathering is defined as any event in a space in which appropriate social distancing of a minimum of three feet cannot be maintained.

Schools: In addition to previous guidance issued on March 8, 2020 to keep schools open, all non-essential school-associated gatherings and group activities should be canceled — such as group parent meetings, field trips, and competitions.

Workplace: Recommended implementation of distancing measures including an increased physical space between employees in offices and worksites, limited in-person meetings, limited travel, and staggered work schedules where possible.

Long-Term Care and Assisted Living: Strict limitations announced this week by the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services remain in place.

As the number of positive cases increases across Oregon, public health resources will be directed toward implementing the guidelines and policies in this statewide mitigation plan, and reducing focus on aggressive contact follow-up on each individual positive case. 

“Nobody is immune to this virus, it can touch everyone," Brown said. “We can't let fear and anxiety stigmatize people. We are seeing cases across multiple counties and age groups, and in people exposed through different circumstances. It's time for us all to do what we can to slow its spread and take care of one another."

Brown submitted an updated request to Vice President Pence today outlining Oregon’s urgent needs from the federal government to support coronavirus response efforts in Oregon, as well as anticipated needs moving forward.

The Oregon Health Authority announced new steps to expand access to COVID-19 testing. State epidemiologists have updated COVID-19 testing guidelines to emphasize that outpatient clinicians can order a test for the virus from a commercial laboratory, at their discretion, without OHA authorization.

In addition, the procedure for collecting a COVID-19 sample is no longer classified as a high-risk, airborne testing process, requiring N95 masks. Under the recommendations, health care providers will only be required to wear a regular mask, gown, gloves, and eye protections, making the procedure for safely collecting samples simpler to administer for health care workers and easier to obtain for patients.

Finally, state health officials announced that they have agreements with five hospital systems to conduct COVID-19 testing. State health officials and hospital administrators urged anyone considering a COVID-19 test to consult with your health care provider before seeking a test at a local clinic or hospital.

Brown said she has submitted an updated request to Vice President Pence yesterday outlining Oregon’s urgent needs from the federal government to support coronavirus response efforts in Oregon, as well as anticipated needs moving forward. This morning, federal agencies communicated that they are working to fulfill Oregon's requests.

Follow the developments here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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