Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities

Update: Oregon identifies third presumptive positive case of COVID-19

Second Positive Case of COVID-19 Appears in Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority announced the third presumptive case of COVID-19 in Oregon. The second case is a Washington County resident who is an adult household contact of the initial presumptive positive case. The second adult did not require medical attention. The individual was identified as a contact of the first person during the public health investigation. The individual remains isolated at home.

All Americans should be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community. The community can take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy. With the third positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Oregon, we need to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading to Malheur County.

Currently a vaccine is not available for COVID-19. Until a vaccine is developed, community-based interventions can help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Oregon Health Authority officials continue to recommend people in Oregon take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get the flu vaccine. Malheur County Health Department still has them available, including for people without insurance.

When to be tested: If you have mild symptoms, stay home. Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. If you have not been in close contact or traveled to an area with COVID-19, your healthcare provider will rule out other respiratory diseases first. Typically, a person will only be tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms and the contact risk factors or if they have a fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis. (CDC Criteria to Evaluate)

If you call the Malheur County Health Department to ask if a person should be tested, we will instruct you to call your healthcare provider and can not evaluate symptoms or severity over the phone and do not operate a primary care clinic. If a person meets criteria for COVID-19 testing, providers will call the health department.

When a positive test result occurs, state and local public health officials conduct what is known as contact tracing which is a way to identify and notify others who have been in close proximity to the person who has tested positive. Health officials continue to follow up with these individuals.

Public interest and inquiries about COVID-19 have centered on the testing process. The following information is to help inform persons about this process:

  • A presumptive case of COVID-19 was announced February 28. The testing process is two tiered. The first test is done by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory and a second test to confirm is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The results of the second (CDC) test have to be received on the presumptive case.
  • Testing is only done upon request of a health care provider and is based on symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), travel to an affected area and exposure to a person or persons who have traveled to an affected area.
  • Testing only occurs in state public health labs and at the CDC.
  • The Oregon State Public Health Laboratory has materials to process up to 80 tests a day and is building surge capacity if needed. Supplies are on hand to perform approximately 1,500 tests; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pledged to replenish Oregon’s capacity as needed.

Because the current presumptive case of COVID-19 is affiliated with a local school, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education partnered to create an “Information for Families and Schools” Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. Additional updated information, including daily tracking of Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) is available at www.healthoregon.org\coronavirus.

Please share this information with your colleagues, family, and neighbors. MCHD can help people living in Malheur County sign up for the Oregon Health Plan and connect to health resources. All of our services are available at low or no cost, regardless of insurance status and based on income.

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