Oregon Health Authority Monitors Hundreds Of Potential Coronavirus Cases

The Oregon Health Authority is currently monitoring 76 people for coronavirus among about 250 potential cases.

This announcement came three days after the agency declined to give The Lund Report any numbers of potential cases, saying it wanted to “protect their privacy and the integrity of the outbreak investigation.” 

California and Washington state have released numbers. After the Lund Report wrote about the state's lack of transparency, the health authority decided to release the cases. It set up a website showing the number of people being monitored and tested along with the results.

"We recognize people are very worried about Covid-19, particularly given that we don’t know everything we wish we could know about how it’s transmitted," Lillian Shirley, director of the agency's Public Health Division, said in a statement. "People need to understand their real risks and feel confident the state and their local health departments are working hard to protect their health. We hope sharing these ... data will help do that."

As of Monday, officials have monitored 254 people who either returned to Oregon from China or were in close contact with someone who had, a statement said. A total of 178 people did not develop symptoms and are no longer being monitored. Seventy-six are still being tracked. The state did not release the counties of residence, ages or gender.

County health officials are doing the monitoring. Many of the cases have been in Multnomah County, according to Dr. Paul Cieslak, head of infectious disease and immunization at the Public Health Division. 

Dr. Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, told The Lund Report that a five-person team in charge of communicable disease at the county has called all potential cases and asked them to monitor themselves for symptoms, including taking their temperature, and to self-quarantine if necessary.

Anyone’s who’s been in the vicinity of a potentially infected person outside China but not close enough to be at direct risk is considered to be at low risk. People in the medium-risk category -- who’ve been to China but outside the affected Hubei Province -- have been asked to monitor themselves and stay at home for 14 days. High-risk people are those who traveled to Hubei Province or were near an infected person.

No one has been at high risk in Oregon, Vines said.

The state has only investigated two potential cases of coronavirus, including conducting two tests which were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both tests came out negative and the two people are no longer being monitored.

With cases continuing to pop up worldwide, the monitoring could go on for a long time.

The health authority said that everyone should take the normal precautions to avoid getting sick or spreading it:

  • 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 percent 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.
  • Consult Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.A.
  • Take care of your overall health. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.

The state said it will update the website every Tuesday, starting next week, and will alert the public of any confirmed cases with a news release that will also reveal the person’s county.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected] or on Twitter @LynnePDX.


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