By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Oregon announces first presumptive case of coronavirus

 Oregon anounced its first presumptive case of novel coronavirus Friday evening. An adult resident of Washington County experienced symptoms of COVID-19 beginning Feb. 19, and a sample was collected from the individual today, health officials said.

Governor Kate Brown convened a press conference Friday evening with Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen and Multnomah County Health Officer Jennifer Vines.

The Oregon Health Authority said in a press release that the person has been hospitalized and is being cared for in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro. Officials are still waiting for final test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but at this time "we are considering this a presumptive case,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, Msed.

The person has neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure, Allen said. Health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown.

The person spent time in a school in the Lake Oswego school district and may have exposed students and staff there. Public health officials will investigate potential exposures there and contact employees and families of children to let them know next steps.

Meanwhile, Sidelinger said, Oregonians should go about their business, but take care to wash their hands often and stay home “at the first sign of a cold or the flu.”

Health authorities said people should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Yamhill County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin said she and Public Health employees have been working with local hospitals, schools, medical clinics and county Emergency Manager Brian Young to plan for how to proceed if the disease becomes widespread locally.

"We have plans in place for any sort of pandemic; we practice and drill with them” on a regular basis, Manfrin said.

In addition, she said, the county has prior experience.

In 2018, one of the nation's largest outbreaks of shigella, a food-borne illness, occurred in Yamhill County. In 2009, the H1N1 influenza virus led to such widespread demand for vaccination that the county Public Health Department hired temporary workers to help organize the effort, offering the shots in clinics, schools and businesses around the county.

Manfrin said the best way for people to protect themselves, in addition to frequent hand-washing, is to maintain general good health.

Advice includes “staying out of public places if you're sick; covering your cough; washing your hands, particularly before you eat, and after you've been in public places ... and having a healthy immune system,” Manfrin said. “That means making sure you're getting enough sleep, eating enough fruits and vegetables, and decreasing the amount of sugar you eat, because we know that sugar depresses your immune system.”

Health authorities are recommending avoiding close contact with people who are sick, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are often touched, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

As of this week, 76 people in Oregon were being monitored. Another 178 have completed monitoring without developing symptoms, according to the OHA website. Another two people had developed symptoms of the virus, were monitored, and turned out not to have it.

The CDC said two more Americans tested positive for the virus out of the group of quarantined passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, bringing the national total to 62.

The governor's office said that as with earthquakes and other natural disasters, families should have enough food, water, prescription medications, pet food, sanitation supplies and anything else they would need to shelter in place for an extended period of time if it becomes necessary.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild disease. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

It has infected 83,000 people globally and caused more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.


-The AP wire service contributed to this story





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