The first case of COVID–19 in Multnomah County, was diagnosed Tuesday. The disease is caused by the novel coronavirus. The new case brings Oregon’s total to 15 cases in seven counties. Joanne Rideout has details.
The Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah county are seeking to isolate anyone who may have been in close contact with the patient in the last 14 days. The patient is being treated at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The person had no known contact with a confirmed case, and had not traveled to a country where the virus is known to exist. The case is being investigated as a community-acquired illness, meaning it was transferred from person to person locally, and not as a result of international travel.
At a press conference Monday, Tri County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines warned that the number of cases in Oregon would rise.
Jennifer Vines: “We expect more testing to come online in the days and weeks ahead, and so we expect for more cases to be confirmed. This information will be reported to public health and this will start to tell us truly how widespread the virus is and what the picture is.”
Dr. Vines urged the public to take preventive measures, to keep health facilities from being overwhelmed with patients.
Jennifer Vines: “So with no vaccine and no treatment, we have two goals right now. First, is to slow the spread of the virus to help keep our health systems running. So they can offer lifesaving care to those who need it, when they need it. Number two, is we need to protect the elderly and the medically fragile. Because it is increasingly clear that these individuals are at high risk of serious complications and death.”
People at high risk of contracting COVID–19 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.
Those recommendations include frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds. People should avoid touching eyes nose or mouth with unwashed hands, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. And stay home if they 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).
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.
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.
Dr. Vines referred to COVID-10 as a pandemic, adding, “We are not going to isolate and quarantine our way out of this. We are working with our partners on mass gathering guidance, at schools, and places where people gather and mix, to spread people out.” I’m Joanne Rideout reporting.