Spring Into Wellness events cancelled

With more positive cases in Oregon (21 total), we must follow state guidance for social distancing measures and cancel mass gatherings and non-essential meetings. We will be sharing a press release with further details later today.

Malheur LCAC Spring Into Wellness events scheduled for Adrian (3/12), Jordan Valley (3/17), and Nyssa (3/19) are cancelled and will be rescheduled for the fall.

People at Higher Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19

The spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, has sown fear and anxiety. While this in an epidemic we are taking very seriously and the virus can be deadly, the vast majority of those infected so far have only mild symptoms and make full recoveries. It is important to know the facts and not exaggerate the risks. The most important thing we can do as a community is prevention and to protect those who are at higher risk if they were to contract COVID-19.

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

A large study of 44,672 coronavirus cases confirmed in China showed that 81% of cases were mild, 14% were severe and 5% were critical. The number of mild cases is likely much higher because people with mild cases may not show any symptoms and not seek medical care but still transmit the virus. The number of mild cases, though, creates its own complications for curbing the virus’s spread. Those with mild or no symptoms may not know they have contracted the virus, or may pass it off as a seasonal cold. They may then continue in their daily lives — traveling, kissing, coming into close contact with others — and spread the virus without anyone knowing. “In this manner, a virus that poses a low health threat on the individual level can pose a high risk on the population level,” a group of five scientists wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. (As reported 2/27/2020 in the New York Times.)

For this reason, it is especially important that people stay home when they show mild symptoms, which are nearly indistinguishable from the common cold or seasonal flu. Most severe cases of COVID-19 affect older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions. If COVID-19 spreads to Malheur County, it is the responsibility of everyone to limit contact, wash hands frequently, and prevent the spread to those who are most vulnerable to a severe or critical case.  

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. Follow the recommendations from the CDC listed below.

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:

  • Stock up on supplies.
    • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
    • If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
    • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
    • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Take everyday preventive actions
    • Clean your hands often
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
    • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
    • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
    • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
    • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
    • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
    • Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
  • If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new virus.
    • Stay home as much as possible.
    • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks

New State COVID-19 Information

Over the weekend, the Oregon Health Authority added seven new presumptive positive cases to Oregon’s COVID-19 count and issued COVID-19 guidance to Oregon schools and universities.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has an official COVID-19 page. The individual risk in Idaho is low at this time and there have been no positive cases in the state. Visit coronavirus.idaho.gov for more information.

We encourage everyone to continue monitoring the OHA Situation in Oregon and follow the facts and good prevention.

COVID-19 Update

washing hands

With increased fear and misconceptions, it is important to keep up to date with the facts about the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon. The best way to know if you hear there has been a new confirmed case is to check the Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 page, where they keep track in real time the number of confirmed cases, those pending, negative, monitored, and more. Bookmark the page and refer to it often: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus 

We may see a spike of confirmed cases across the country as testing increases. The most important steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold can also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Get your flu shot. Available at the Malheur County Health Department. Call 541-889-7279 for an appointment.

If you feel like you need to see a doctor, call your healthcare provider first to discuss whether or not you need to be seen. If you need urgent medical attention, call 911. The provider will ensure they have protective measures in place. ​If a healthcare provider thinks you may have COVID-19, he or she will first determine if you are well enough to stay home or if you need to go to a clinic or hospital. Your healthcare provider may ask you to put on a mask to limit spread of the virus and make sure you are not around other people. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. The goal is to support the person who is ill, supply oxygen if needed, and help lessen the symptoms until the immune system kicks in and kills the virus. Most people with COVID-19 appear to have mild disease that doesn’t require a medical visit.

As with flu, most people can recover at home without problems. Those with fever and cough who have significant trouble breathing, or feel faint, or parents of a child who gets bluish color of the skin around the mouth should call promptly and arrange for medical evaluation or call 911.

It’s important to not stigmatize anyone you think might have COVID-19. There is no way to look at someone who has flu-like symptoms and know they have COVID-19.  

COVID-19 is spread when people touch or breathe in droplets made when ill people cough, sneeze or talk. This can happen when someone is close to a sick person, within six feet. Rarely, people might catch COVID-19 by touching a surface that a person with the infection coughed or sneezed on, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. Coronaviruses can’t survive for long on surfaces, though, so this isn’t common.

The Oregon Health Authority has created a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page. More questions are being answered and the page is updated regularly.

For more information:

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.

For more information:

Oregon announces first, presumptive case of novel coronavirus

Health officials continue investigating as they urge good hand hygiene, covering coughs, staying home if sick

PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon Health Authority has confirmed Oregon’s first, presumptive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, public health officials announced today.

The case, an adult resident of Washington County, experienced symptoms of COVID-19 beginning Feb. 19, and a sample was collected from the individual today. The sample was sent to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory in Hillsboro, which used the new COVID-19 test kit it received Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lab tested the sample today—only hours after it validated the new CDC test kit.

“Our first concern is for this individual, to make sure they’re being cared for and is able to recover,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “Our next priority is finding out who this individual had contact with and make sure they know about their risks, and to let them know how they can get care if they need it. We said this was a fast-moving situation, and that has proved to be true.”

The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had 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. As such, public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown.

“We are awaiting confirmation of the 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 in now appropriate isolation and appropriate care.”

The individual 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.

The individual has been isolated and is being cared for at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro.

OHA epidemiologists are working closely with public health investigators at Washington County Department of Health and Human Services to identify close contacts of the case.

OHA 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.
  • 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.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.

For more information:

COVID-19 Update

Please refer to our Press page for press releases, including the latest, “OHA to begin regular updates on persons under monitoring for COVID-19.

There are still no cases in Oregon and risk remains low as state’s investigation continues.

The Oregon Health Authority will begin weekly updates on persons under monitoring and investigation for novel coronavirus, COVID-19, as state epidemiologists continue their investigation of the disease that has sickened tens of thousands of people worldwide.

For more information:
• OHA Emerging Respiratory Disease page: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus
• CDC COVID-19 page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• CDC travel notice: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/novel-coronavirus-china
• WHO page: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus

Free Naloxone Training

Please join Malheur County Health Department and Kelley Butler, Opioid Response Program Associate for Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc., for a FREE training on when and how to use naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose and receive a naloxone kit to take with you. Two training times are available: Monday, February 24 from 3-4 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb 26 from 9-10 a.m.

Register at the following link and feel free to share it with others who may be interested: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/naloxone-training-tickets-93147780519.

Vendor Registration for Spring Into Wellness

The Malheur Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC) is gearing up for the 2020 Spring Into Wellness tour and we are excited to invite you to join us! In the past, we’ve reached between 700-1,000 community members, equipping them with important health information and services. Please sign up to participate! Being a vendor offers you the unique opportunity to reach out to various communities across the county, and connect with people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet.

In this email you will find all of the information needed to become a vendor this year. We have waived the $50 registration fee and instead, ask that each vendor attend at least 5 of the 7 events, provide a health related service or activity, and donate a door prize to each event.

The 2020 Spring Into Wellness Dates and Locations:

  • February 27, 2020, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Harper School
    • 2987 Harper-Westfall Rd, Harper, OR 97906
  • March 12, 2020, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Adrian High School
    • 305 Owyhee St, Adrian, OR 97901
  • March 17, 2020, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
    • Jordan Valley High School
    • 501 Bassett St, Jordan Valley, OR 97910
  • March 19, 2020, 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Nyssa High School
    • 824 Adrian Blvd, Nyssa, OR 97913
  • May 27, 2020, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
    • Willowcreek Elementary School
    • 2300 9th Ave W, Vale, OR 97918
  • June 4, 2020, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Lions Park
    • 790 SW 3rd Ave, Ontario, OR 97914
  • June 18, 2020 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Outside Vale Hotel, Art Beat on Main Street
    • 123 Main Street, Vale, OR 97918

Register at: http://bit.ly/2H2DkeF

Spring Into Wellness is hosted by the LCAC, a group of locally identified volunteers representing Malheur for the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization. Our goal is to engage Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members to take an active role in improving their own health and the health of their community. With Spring Into Wellness, we will impact the health of all Malheur communities and provide meaningful outreach to connect people to services.

Contact Sarah or Kirsten at the Malheur County Health Department (541-889-7279) for more information.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. If you have a baby or toddler, you may have questions about thumb sucking, your child’s first dental visit or how and when to clean your child’s teeth. The Oregon Health Plan provides dental insurance for Oregonians who qualify for Medicaid.

The Malheur County Health Department encourages all parents and guardians to take their children for consistent dental care. It is important to learn about when children should have their first dental visit, ways to prevent early childhood caries, when to expect changes from primary to permanent teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques, thumb-sucking, dental sealants, choosing the right mouth protector for active children and adolescents, and teaching their children to say no to tobacco. “Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem. With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, their teeth can remain healthy and strong,” said Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department Director.

Call your dentist to schedule your regular dental exams or call the Oregon Health Plan Application Assister at the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 for more information on dental insurance coverage.