Global Handwashing Day

Global Handwashing Day 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic provides an important reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy is also one of the simplest — handwashing with soap and water. Keeping hands clean can prevent 1 in 3 diarrheal illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.

Student washing her hands at an outdoor wash basin.

Each year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day highlights the importance of handwashing with soap and water at home, in the community, and around the world.

Global Handwashing Day serves as a yearly reminder that handwashing with soap and water is one of the best steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The observance was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008. This year’s theme, “Hand Hygiene for All,” seeks to raise awareness of making soap and water available globally, especially in public places, schools, and health care facilities. It also calls for institutions and individuals to improve hand hygiene efforts in the COVID-19 response that can outlast the pandemic and ensure continued access to clean water and soap.

Many germs that can make people sick are spread when we don’t wash our hands with soap and clean, running water. That is why handwashing is so important, especially at key times such as after using the bathroom, when preparing food, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Do I really need to wash my hands for 20 seconds?

Scientific studies show that you need to scrub for 20 seconds to remove harmful germs and chemicals from your hands. If you wash for a shorter time, you will not remove as many germs. Make sure to scrub all areas of your hands, including your palms, backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.

10/14 OHA Weekly Report Update

Malheur County COVID-19 outbreaks reported in latest Weekly Report by Oregon Health Authority

  • Pioneer Place: 40 cases
  • Riverside Manor: 3 cases
  • Wellsprings Assisted Living: 6 cases
  • Nyssa Gardens: 9 cases
  • Dorian Place Assisted Living: 23 cases
  • Brookdale Assisted Living: 37 cases
  • Snake River Correctional Institution: 498 cases
  • Kraft Heinz Company: 20 cases
  • Americold Logistics: cases
  • Amalgamated Sugar: 9 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Nyssa: 6 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Ontario: 4 cases
  • Nyssa High School: 1 student, 4 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Middle School: 0 students, 4 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Elementary School: 1 student, 3 staff/volunteers
  • Four Rivers Community School: 0 students, 4 staff/volunteers
  • Vale Elementary School: 0 students, 1 staff/volunteer

Malheur County COVID-19 Cases by Zipcode

  • 97913 (Nyssa): 291 cases, rate of 5265.1 cases per 100,000 people
  • 97914 (Ontario): 1308 cases, rate of 6810.7 cases per 100,000 people
  • 97918 (Vale): 138 cases, rate of 3041.7 cases per 100,000 people

Clarification on School COVID-19 Case Numbers

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) has worked closely with the Nyssa School District and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to clarify the numbers reported this week in the OHA Weekly Report. There has been confusion because the numbers did not align with the number of cases we had been tracing. The OHA provided explanation that the number of cases isn’t necessarily individual people because it is the number of staff associated per school who test positive. For example, if someone works in more than one school building and tests positive, they will be listed in both school case reports. This happened for four of the staff attributed to the Middle School and High School. The following is what was reported by OHA:

  • Nyssa High School: 1 student, 5 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Middle School: 0 students, 4 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Elementary School: 1 student, 1 staff/volunteer

For the number of individual cases, the report would be the following:

  • Nyssa High School: 1 student, 4 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Middle School: 0 students, 1 staff/volunteers
  • Nyssa Elementary School: 1 student, 1 staff/volunteer

There are eight people with positive COVID-19 cases in the last 28 days connected to the Nyssa School District. Three of the staff are associated to a workplace outbreak and had no student contact. The other cases have been investigated and it was identified that they contracted COVID-19 from outside of the school. All cases are isolating and all contacts have been quarantined and have been individually contacted to encourage testing at the Nyssa COVID-19 Testing Event on Monday, October 12th.  

MCHD and the Nyssa School District have been working tirelessly to follow protocols and maintain clear communication. We appreciate the explanation from the OHA and hope this clarifies the reporting.

Upcoming COVID-19 Testing in Nyssa and Ontario

The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce encourages people in Malheur County to access free testing at two COVID-19 testing events happening next week. Our goals are to respond to outbreaks, reduce the spread of COVID-19, and get our county back into Phase 2 and off the State Watch List. No symptoms or documentation required.

Monday, October 12th COVID Testing Event in Nyssa

  • When: 10/12/20, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1309 Park Ave, Nyssa)
  • Who: Anyone.
  • Please: Bring proof of insurance if you have it. No one will be charged.
  • Sponsored by Valley Family Health Care and Malheur County Health Department
  • Nyssa Testing Flyer – English
  • Nyssa Testing Flyer – Spanish

Wednesday, October 14th COVID Testing Event in Ontario

  • When: 10/14/20, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario)
  • Who: Anyone over age seven.
  • Plus: Flu shots will also be available with limited supply.
  • Sponsored by Oregon Health Authority and Malheur County ICS Team
  • Ontario Testing Flyer – English & Spanish

Additional information on COVID-19, flu shots, and the testing sites is available by calling the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.

Tips for a safe (but still spooky and fun) Halloween

Consider the risk of the activities you choose this Halloween

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) shares these tips for a safe Halloween. The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping how Oregonians celebrate holidays, and that includes Halloween. But it doesn’t mean Halloween this year can’t still be spooky and fun!

Considere el riesgo de las actividades que elija este Halloween

People in Oregon are creative, they care about their community and they know it’s important to celebrate safely. This year, it’s more important than ever to put safety first because COVID-19 cases have risen recently and holiday gatherings on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day led to increased case counts. So, this Halloween, be extra mindful of your choices. Choosing low risk Halloween plans can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 illness, decrease the impact on Oregon’s health care system and save lives.

Halloween masks don't protect against COVID-19

This Halloween, the Oregon Health Authority is recommending that Oregonians avoid traditional door-to-door trick or treating and “Trunk or Treat” events because these are high risk activities for crowding among people outside your household. This recommendation aligns with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which also recommends families avoid traditional trick or treating.

Las máscaras de Halloween no protegen contra el COVID-19

Some ideas for safer, low-risk activities include holding an online costume contest, watching a scary movie online, carving pumpkins with people in your household, decorating your house or apartment, or touring the neighborhood to look at decorated houses with members of your household. “If you dress up in a costume, be careful to plan a costume that allows you to wear a face covering,” said State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “Halloween masks will not protect you or others from coronavirus. Wearing a cloth or disposable face mask that fits snugly and covers your mouth and nose is still required while wearing a costume, no matter how scary or silly your costume is.”

U-pick pumpkin patches and COVID-19

For more tips to stay safe this holiday, check out these infographics about Halloween activities and how to safely visit a pumpkin patch or farm, and then share them with your friends and family on your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Huertas de calabazas y el COVID-19

New Syringe Disposal Containers in Vale & Ontario

There are safe ways to dispose of syringes left on the ground and at home. You can now dispose used needles and syringes into sharps disposal drop boxes at two locations in Ontario and one in Vale:

  • Outdoors, drop off 24/7:
    • Valley Family Health Care, 789 Washington St W, Vale, OR 97918
    • Mallard Grocery, 797 N Oregon St, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Indoors, drop off during business hours:
    • Malheur County Health Department, 1108 SW 4th Ave, Ontario, OR 97914

For more disposal options or if you have questions, contact the peer dispatch team at 541-709-8539.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid touching or handling needles or syringes found in public places. Parents and caregivers should remind children not to touch needles in parks and playgrounds.
  • If you are accidentally stuck by another person’s used needle or other sharp:
    • Wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. 
    • Seek immediate medical attention by calling your provider right away or going to your local hospital emergency department. Providers will check your immunization status and may begin preventative treatment.
  • Personal safety tips for disposal:  DO’s and DON’Ts: Safe Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps Used At Home, At Work, or While Traveling (FDA)

How do I safely dispose of a syringe?

Follow this step by step guide about how to safely pick up and dispose of syringes.

Step 1: Pick it up

To avoid health risk wear gloves like gardening or kitchen gloves. Some people use tongs, pliers, or a trash grabber. This is a good idea, especially for anyone who is going to pick up a lot of syringes or who is doing a community clean up. 

Step 2: Drop it in

  • Use a hard plastic container such as a sharps container or 20oz water or juice bottle with a lid.
  • Set the container on the ground
  • Drop the syringes in one at a time needle point down

Step 3: Seal it up

  • Close the container tight
  • Seal the top with a piece of tape
  • Label container “sharps do not recycle”

Step 4: Drop it off

Go to the nearest drop box and dispose of syringes one at a time to avoid potential harm.

If you have concerns or do not feel comfortable disposing of syringes, please call the peer dispatch number at 541-709-8539 and they will explain the disposal process or go to the location. 

Thank you for keeping our community safe. 

Please share: October 14 Free COVID-19 Testing Event

Click on flyer to download copy.

Share the Facebook Event:

The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce, in partnership with Oregon Health Authority, and local community-based organizations, is proud to announce an upcoming large COVID-19 testing event. Free COVID-19 testing is available to individuals over age seven at the Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario) on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the 13th and largest planned drive-up testing site organized by the Taskforce.

Flu shots will also be available at the drive-up testing site with limited supply to any Malheur County residents. The Flu Point of Distribution (POD) is for people without insurance who do not have flu or COVID-like symptoms. 


Testing at the Malheur Drive-Up Testing Sites is for any individual over age seven. No symptoms, registration, insurance, or documentation is required.

This testing option is not meant to replace or eliminate other testing offered by local healthcare providers. The goal is to supplement those options in order to ease some of the pressure on the existing system and make the process more accessible to the public. People still should contact their medical provider for guidance and assessment if they have symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. For medical emergencies, they should call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you may have COVID-19.

Testing Procedure

Upon arrival at the Malheur County Fairgrounds testing site, individuals will be required to remain in their vehicles at all times. Each driver should drive cautiously and follow traffic directions. Individuals will be required to complete a screening form. All forms and service available in English and Spanish.

Personnel in full medical protective gear will check the individual’s temperature with a no-touch thermometer and use an oximeter to measure blood oxygen level. Personnel will give instruction on how to self-swab each nostril. The sample will be sent to a laboratory the following day and each person tested will receive a call with negative or positive test results within seven days.

Additional information on COVID-19, flu shots, and the testing site is available by calling the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.

Local Hospital Dashboard Data

Measuring hospital capacity is an important component of our COVID-19 emergency preparedness. At this time, we have sufficient hospital capacity in the Boise area and in Eastern Oregon. As of yesterday, September 30th, 23 Malheur County residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in area hospitals. Below are dashboards available for hospitalization capacity reporting on the local, state, and national level.

Oregon’s Hospital Capacity by Region: OHA Dashboard

Saint Alphonsus Dashboard

St. Luke’s Dashboard

CDC National Healthcare Safety Network Hospital Capacity Dashboard

Malheur County Outbreaks

Contact tracing will help slow the spread of COVID-19

With new outbreaks being reported in today’s OHA Weekly Report and cases rising in Malheur county and surrounding areas, it’s important to know what to do if you are in contact with a positive case. Learn more about it from the Oregon Health Authority here.


Contact tracing means calling people who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to provide guidance and support. It’s a key tool for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Oregon, local public health authorities use contact tracing to prevent the spread of many types of diseases, like measles. Contact tracers help keep you healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Talking with you about how to prevent the spread of the virus, including staying home or at the location provided by public health until the danger has passed. This is known as “quarantining.”
  • Providing health information on how to care for yourself and others if you start having symptoms.
  • Sharing resources available in your community that can support you while you quarantine.

COVID-19 Outbreaks reported in latest Weekly Report by Oregon Health Authority

  • Pioneer Place: 39 cases
  • Riverside Manor: 3 cases
  • Dorian Place Assisted Living: 23 cases
  • Wellsprings Assisted Living: 6 cases
  • Nyssa Gardens: 9 cases
  • Brookdale Assisted Living: 37 cases
  • Snake River Correctional Institution: 436 cases
  • Kraft Heinz Company: 20 cases
  • Walmart: 10 cases
  • Amalgamated Sugar: 9 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Nyssa: 5 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Ontario: 3 cases

There’s support for you and the people you love.

COVID-19 has changed our lives, and it can feel difficult for anyone.

Oregon-based nonprofit Lines for Life and OHA have launched the Safe + Strong Helpline1-800-923-HELP (4357). The line offers emotional support and resources to anyone who is struggling and seeking support.

Callers do not need to be in a crisis to contact this line. Help is free and available 24/7. Language interpreters are available.

OHA has also expanded its Safe + Strong campaign to include behavioral health resources. A behavioral health landing page offers mental and emotional support information and resources as well as guidance for how to have conversations with loved ones who may be struggling.

Learn more and share the Safe+Strong Web Resources

Helpline: 1-800-923-HELP (4357)