Oregon identifies Second Coronavirus Case As Public Health Officials Investigate Outbreak

A second Oregonian has tested positive for coronavirus as public health officials scramble to identify those who came into contact with the first person in Oregon diagnosed with the respiratory disease.

Oregon Health Authority officials announced late Sunday that a second person tested positive through the state lab. That person is a Washington County resident who was only identified as an “adult household contact” to the first person who tested positive on Friday, state officials said. Both cases are considered presumptive while awaiting the results of a second test confirming the results from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 

The second person did not require medical attention and is staying isolated at home, health officials said. That person is hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro.

"The patient has been isolated and is receiving the highest quality care," said Michael Foley, Kaiser Permanente spokesman. "Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and safety of our members, patients and staff. All members of the care team are following CDC protocols."

Officials have declined to release the age or gender of either person, citing privacy restrictions.

The second person’s positive test came when the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory conducted nine tests Sunday. The other eight tests came back negative.

Oregon Health officials said the state laboratory can handle up to 80 tests a day and is building up capacity to do more testing if it’s necessary. The state has enough supplies to complete about 1,500 tests, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has promised to send more if they are needed, the health authority said.

“We do not have any current testing constraints,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a conference call with reporters.

The first person works at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego. It's a mystery how the person became infected. That person has no connection with China or anyone who visited China. Health officials are tracing the person's contacts.

“We may see more cases like this as we ramp up testing and as we continue our public health investigation,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, tri-county health officer for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties

Two other infected people in California also caught coronavirus through an unknown source.

Nineteen people in Oregon have been tested for coronavirus, usually because they showed symptoms and may have been exposed to a confirmed case or traveled to mainland China. That group includes the two people who have tested positive, 11 people who tested negative and six people with pending test results.

Currently, Oregon health officials are monitoring 86 people who have no symptoms but are at risk because they traveled to mainland China or may have been exposed through close contact to someone with coronavirus. Another 231 people have completed the monitoring without developing any symptoms. 

There have been two deaths in the U.S., and more than 3,000 worldwide from coronavirus. 

To combat the disease, health officials are stressing that individuals should frequently wash their hands and not touch their face or eyes. Individuals who are feeling ill should first call their medical provider to determine if testing is necessary. 

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or on Twitter @BenBotkin1.









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