Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency in Oregon to address the spread of the novel coronavirus after the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) identified seven new cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, bringing the total to 14.
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,” OHA Director Patrick Allen said. “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.”
Allen 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.
OHA chief medical officer Dana Hargunani said 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 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 your 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.
The Governor authorized the state of emergency by verbal proclamation last night at 8:14 pm, and confirmed the executive order in writing this morning.
"This news is concerning for all Oregonians, but my resolve and that of my administration to address this public health crisis is unchanged," Brown said. "This emergency declaration gives the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management all the resources at the state's disposal to stem the spread of this disease. We will do everything it takes, within our power and in coordination with federal and local officials, to keep Oregonians safe."
Brown's emergency declaration allows OHA to activate reserves of emergency volunteer health care professionals, bringing online auxiliary medical professionals to work with local health authorities to identify and contain new cases of COVID-19 in Oregon.
The declaration additionally grants broad authority to the State Public Health Director, OHA, and the Office of Emergency Management, which will allow the agencies to take immediate action and devote all available state resources towards containing the coronavirus in Oregon.
The state of emergency will remain in effect for 60 days, but can be extended until the public health threat of the coronavirus is contained.
Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems Statement
The President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS), Becky Hultberg, released the following statement regarding Governor Brown’s declaration of a State of Emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“By declaring a state of emergency, the Governor and the Oregon Health Authority Director are taking necessary steps to bring state government’s broad powers to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Oregon.
We support the Governor’s leadership in taking this step and support any additional actions to prepare and respond to this outbreak, particularly her focus on at-risk populations – older adults, those with underlying health conditions, and the unhoused. OAHHS and our member hospitals are in regular communication with the administration and local health departments to deliver accurate information and quality care to our patients and the public.
Hospitals are on the front lines responding to the outbreak and are committed to providing critical inpatient and community health services to respond to this evolving situation. We are working with the state administration to address important issues such as inpatient capacity, additional supplies and equipment to keep our workers and patients safe, regulatory relief to ensure adequate staffing and clarity around changing requirements.
We look forward to addressing these issues as we continue to fulfill our responsibilities around public health, infection prevention and disease management.”
OAHHS represents Oregon’s 62 acute care hospitals and works on behalf of the patients they serve to promote community health and to continue improving Oregon's innovative health care system.
For more information
- OHA Coronavirus page
- Jackson County Health Department Coronavirus page
- Klamath County Health Department Coronavirus page
- Washington County Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus page
- CDC COVID-19 page
- CDC travel notices
- World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 page
Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.