COVID-19 Testing Tomorrow, April 29th at Fairgrounds

Wednesday, April 29th, the Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce is offering drive-up COVID-19 testing to individuals who meet specific criteria at the Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Enter at the South Entrance, across from LRC, behind Fairview Apartments. Map above.

Testing is for people who live or work in Malheur County.

Do you know someone with new symptoms? Please share! For more information, review our earlier post and visit the FB event page.

Safe + Strong COVID-19 Outreach and Education Campaign

Visit safestrongoregon.org and the Spanish version of the website.

Earlier this week, Governor Kate Brown, along with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), launched a new phase of the state’s public awareness campaign to educate Oregonians about COVID-19. Safe + Strong focuses on community-centered outreach in 12 languages to connect people who are most at-risk of experiencing health disparities with the information, tools and resources they need to stay safe, healthy, and strong during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While social distancing measures have slowed the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, many people in Malheur County face economic and systemic barriers which prevent them from taking steps to keep themselves and their families safe. Staying home to stay safe requires resources or life circumstances that are not a reality for many. This includes safe, stable housing, money available to stock up on groceries, a job that allows remote work, the ability to meet daily needs without assistance from a caregiver, support for chronic medical conditions and access to information about how to protect themselves.

Safe + Strong is a statewide effort to reach communities most impacted by health disparities with culturally relevant, linguistically responsive resources.

“We know that due to historical inequities, race and income disparities can lead to devastating health impacts,” said OHA director Patrick Allen. “We also know from our ongoing collaboration with community-based organizations that essential health information about how to stay safe has not been reaching many Oregonians. We’re committed to improving the health of all Oregonians by putting resources and tools in the hands of the people who need them.”

Find resources, community partner contacts, and an Oregon COVID-19 Response Toolkit. Individuals, families, agencies, and organizations will all benefit from the tools available on Safe + Strong for help with employment, housing, food, utilities, children, health care and more.

Information adapted from Safe + Strong website and press release.

COVID-19 Drive-Up Testing Site Coming to Malheur County

Click on graphic to see full poster.

The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce is offering COVID-19 testing to individuals who meet specific criteria at the Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario) next Wednesday, April 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Taskforce is led by Lieutenant Rich Harriman and supported by staff from the Health Department, Environmental Health, Ambulance Service District, Planning, Surveying and several community agencies. The Taskforce intends to offer more testing sites in the future, until the Oregon Office of Emergency Management allotment of tests has been exhausted.

“There is significant value in being able to increase testing capacity in Malheur County through this testing site,” said Angie Gerrard, Malheur County RN and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “Access to enough testing in our area is essential to identifying cases for isolation and making sure they get the care they need. Knowing who tests positive will help us in our fight to stop the spread of this virus.”

Eligibility

Testing at the April 29th Testing Site is only for individuals who live or work in Malheur County. A person qualifies for testing if they have two symptoms (fever within last three days, cough, shortness of breath) OR one symptom plus one of the risk factors below:

  • Age 60 or older
  • BMI 40 or above
  • Live or work in a nursing home or long-term care facility, jail, prison, group home or other congregate care setting
  • Frontline healthcare provider or first responder
  • Routinely take cortisone, prednisone or other steroids, anti-cancer drugs, or had radiation treatments
  • Have a condition that weakens your immune system (cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplant, HIV with low CD4 count or not treated)
  • Pregnant
  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease (moderate to severe asthma, COPD, emphysema, pulmonary or cystic fibrosis)
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension)
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Had close contact with a lab-confirmed Covid-19 case within 14 days of when your symptoms started

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.

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. Testing is limited to four individuals per vehicle, and those individuals must be seated at a seat with a working window. You will be required to complete a screening form, which includes where you live and work, high risk factors, and a release of liability. 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 a swab to obtain the necessary sample from the individual’s nose. If you do not meet the testing criteria, you will be diverted back to your residence to monitor symptoms and contact your local healthcare provider.

Additional information on COVID-19 and the testing site is available by calling the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279. Due to patient privacy concerns, members of the media will not be allowed to enter the testing site. Thank you for sharing this important information and helping us raise the availability of testing.

OHA Guidance for Grocery Shopping

Guidance for Grocery Shopping from the Oregon Health Authority:

  • ​Stay home if you’re sick. Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Order online or use curbside pickup.

Protect yourself while shopping:

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
  • When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness, shop at stores that have special hours for people who are over 65 or who have underlying medical conditions.
  • Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
  • Use hand sanitizer when you leave the store. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with regular soap and water when you get home.
  • At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill. There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.
  • For more information see the CDC webpage.​

Walk-Thru Wednesdays

While fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malheur County Health Department is still offering essential services, including our Certified Recovery Mentor Peer program. Starting tomorrow, we will host “Walk-Thru Wednesday,” a PRIME+ peer project for people who use drugs.

WHEN: Starting April 22nd, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Next Walk-Thru Wednesday scheduled for May 6th, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Mallard Grocery (797 N Oregon St, Ontario). We hope to begin offering this service weekly, stay tuned for more details.

WHERE: Malheur County Health Department parking lot – 1108 SW 4th St, Ontario. Social distancing measures will be enforced. Staff will wear masks and we encourage anyone coming to wear one if they have one, too.

Walk-Thru Wednesday – What will be offered:

  • Availability to meet peers
  • Hygiene kits
  • Safe sex supplies
  • Safe use supplies/syringes
  • Educational materials
  • Support to begin tele-buprenorphine appointments
  • Referral to other support programs, including Oregon Health Plan application assistance, WIC, family planning, home visiting, and more.

Download the PRIME+ Brochure. Note that SMART Recovery meetings are now virtual until social distancing guidelines are lifted.

Call the Peer Dispatch Line at 541-709-8539 for more information 7 days a week.

Quick Tip: Cloth Face Coverings

Image may contain: possible text that says 'MALHEUR COUNTY HEALTH EALTHDEPARTMENT COVID-19 LATEST INFORMATION AND PROTECTION HELPS WEAR A CLOTH MASK IN PUBLIC, IF POSSIBLE'

When you are in public, wear a cloth mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC says cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

How are you coping?

The outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for people. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and our community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the pandemic can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in. Taking care of yourself and helping others cope will help us get through this difficult time together.

Ways to cope with stress

Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and focus on strengthening your support system.

Take breaks. Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy. Take a walk outside.

Help kids cope. Check in with your child and ask what questions they have. Limit information to credible facts and give simple answers. Listen to and validate their feelings, but don’t tell them not to worry. Correct misinformation. You might say, “We can do things to try to stay healthy, like washing our hands regularly and avoiding touching our faces. It’s true that some people have died from this, and most people who get this illness are OK.” Keep routines in place. Stay in touch with friends and family by email, video, mail, or phone. Exercise together. Accept and ask for help.

Stay informed. When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials, like us! Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media.

Avoid too much exposure to news. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.

Support relationships at work. Implement the Considerations for a Trauma Informed Response for Work Settings from Trauma Informed Oregon if you an essential worker or working from home.

Seek help when needed. If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor. Contact the SAMHSA helpline to find a treatment provider at 1-800-985-5990 or call 211 for local resources. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide—whether you are in crisis or not—call or live chat the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Call us at the Malheur County Health Department for more information or to get connected to one of our many programs, including WIC, peer mentor support, birth control, syringe exchange, home visiting, and more. There are no bad questions. Call and let us help you at 541-889-7279. Call our peer dispatch line directly at 541-709-8539 if you are concerned about your substance use. All services are confidential and free or low cost. Reach out and let’s get through this together.

COVID-19 Case Reporting Changes

The Malheur County Health Department is committed to posting daily updates on the COVID-19 testing results of Malheur County residents and sharing information clearly and quickly with the public. Now with four laboratory-confirmed positive cases in the county, we will not release press releases for each new case. Instead, each day we will update the case count at malheurhealth.org/covid-19-cases. The page includes the situation in Malheur County, along with demographics of cases, including age group, sex, and whether the person is hospitalized. We are not allowed to share protected health information of patients.

Rest assured that public health nurses are busy conducing contact monitoring, case investigation, and coordinating with health care providers and the Oregon Health Authority. We appreciate your support and vigilance as we try to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our community.

Sign up for email updates at malheurhealth.org and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WIC.MCHD. Recent new posts include a Response to Frequently Asked Questions and a prevention poster. Call us during business hours with questions or concerns at 541-889-7279. We each have the ability to help protect the well-being of our neighbors. Thank you for promoting health with us!

Response to Frequently Asked Questions

Click on image to open full poster.

The Malheur County Health Department appreciates hearing from the public and answering questions to help support everyone who lives in our community. A nurse phone line is open during business hours to take your calls at 541-889-7279.

In an effort to answer more frequently asked questions, we have developed a poster of recommendations for public action when and if you ever leave your home. Additional COVID-19 FAQ and fact sheets are available from the Oregon Health Authority at healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

Many questions we receive are about what to do if you believe you’ve had contact with someone who is symptomatic or to report Stay Home, Save Lives order violations. We recommend the following, in addition to the guidance we’ve posted previously.

If you’re symptomatic or if you’ve had exposure:

  • People who are exposed to someone who has symptoms or tests positive are encouraged to monitor symptoms for two weeks after contact and continue following prevention and social distancing measures. Health care providers or employers may request that you quarantine at home. If you are not sure what to do, call us at 541-889-7279.
  • Monitoring symptoms means taking your temperature twice a day, noting if you have a temp of 100 degrees or higher, a new cough or shortness of breath. Those are the most common symptoms, but you should also pay attention to new onset of fatigue, loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you develop symptoms that are mild enough to manage at home, isolate in a designated sick room and notify those who you have had close contact (those you live and work with, those you’ve had contact within 6 feet for over 15 minutes) with up to two days prior to the onset of symptoms.
  • If you do not have access to a thermometer, you could ask someone in your household to feel your forehead twice a day to notice if you are warmer than normal. Chills, sweats, headache, body ache, loss of appetite, dehydration, and clamminess can be a sign of a fever.
  • Anyone with symptoms needs to stay isolated for a full 72 hours after symptoms resolve before leaving home.
  • If you need to call 911 or police for any reason, tell them if you are symptomatic and put on a mask if possible before they arrive.

Many people are not following the social distancing measures:

  • It is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of our community during the ongoing state of emergency that, to the maximum extent possible, people stay at home. Set an example for those around you by following guidelines and setting boundaries.
  • Remember you can control your own actions, not other people’s. Do the best that you can with what you have. Make a Family COVID-19 Plan and follow it. Talk to the people in your household about how their positive, patient behavior can save lives.

List of “Must-Close” businesses included in Executive Order 20-12:

  • Dine-in restaurants and bars
  • Nightclubs and concerts
  • Shopping at outdoor or indoor malls and retail complexes
  • Gyms, sports and fitness centers, health clubs, exercise studios, dance/yoga studios
  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, day spas and massage services, non-medical wellness spas, cosmetic stores, tattoo parlors
  • Theaters, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys, music concerts, sporting events, museums, skating rinks
  • State parks, playgrounds, campgrounds, pools, skate parks, festivals

Other retail businesses not on the list may continue operating, but only if they can maintain social distancing protocols. Additional OHA Guidance for Employers is available.

Who to Contact with Concerns and Complaints:

Malheur County Announces Third Positive COVID-19 Case

Today the Malheur County Health Department reported the third lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 case in the county. The person who tested positive is a female in her 40s. She is a resident of Malheur County and is not hospitalized. She is recovering at home and isolated and has been since she was tested. Also today, Oregon reported a total of 1,371 cases and Idaho reported 1,396 cases.  

Our greatest concern is for the people affected by the coronavirus and their families. We thank local health care providers in the area for caring for them and providing COVID-19 testing. If you have symptoms and believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, please call your health care provider and tell them your concerns.

It is important as the virus spreads that people follow physical distancing measures, frequently wash hands and surfaces, and stay home with symptoms to prevent further transmission. Use of cloth face coverings may reduce the spread of virus and help prevent those who have the virus but do not have symptoms from passing it to others.

Call the Malheur County Health Department for more information at 541-889-7279.