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Story by Lloyd Gufferson - The Oregon Herald
Published on Monday March 9, 2020 - 12:04 AM
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SALEM, Oregon - The Oregon Health Authority announced seven new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 Sunday morning, March 8, 2020, doubling the number of known cases in Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown said she is declaring a state of emergency to bring additional resources to the state's response.

Brown authorized the state of emergency by verbal proclamation Saturday night around 8:14 p.m. and confirmed it in an executive order Sunday morning.

"I've consulted with Oregon Health Authority and I am declaring a state of emergency to make sure we are able to swiftly deploy the personnel and resources necessary to address coronavirus in Oregon," Brown announced at a press conference Sunday.

Brown said the declaration would give Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management "all the resources at our state's disposal to stem the spread of this disease."

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 60 days but can be extended as needed until the outbreak is contained, Brown said.

Effectively, officials said the declaration will allow the health authority to:

  • Create more COVID-19 testing sites at more regional hospitals.
  • Bring in emergency volunteer healthcare professionals to add service, especially in rural communities.
  • Expand telemedicine, or remote care, so patients can be screened and in some cases treated without exposing more people to the virus.
The state of emergency gives the Oregon Health Authority and Office of Emergency Management all resources at the state's disposal to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Brown said.

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 60 days, but can be extended.

The seven new cases are the result of contact with another known case, The Oregonian reported.

Of the new cases, five were in Washington County and one in Marion County, which are in northwestern Washington. Another case is reported in Douglas County in the southwestern part of the state.

Leaders of Hillsboro School District, which is in Washington County west of Portland, said Sunday that one of its students at South Meadows Middle School had tested positive for the virus. The district is not closing the school, but will deep clean it.

Officials say the at-risk population appears to be older adults and those with preexisting medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease.

Health officials said people if possible should avoid visiting people who fall into that vulnerable category to reduce the risk of them acquiring the virus.

Officials said they are not recommending any extraordinary measures for healthy adults other than the standard preventive behaviors of washing hands and covering mouths and noses with coughing or sneezing.

Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the Oregon Health Authority, said the virus didn't appear to spread by simply being in the air but by droplets from coughs or sneezes.

"Which means you need to be within a few feet of somebody and be coughed on," he said.