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Hood River Middle School custodian Andy Guzman disinfects desks and other surfaces on Monday.

Three presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, have been confirmed in Oregon: Two in Washington County, and one in Umatilla County.

No cases have been reported in Hood River County. The Hood River County Health Department has the following statement up on their website: “Hood River County Health Department in cooperation with State and Federal officials are closely monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak,” with links to a Center for Disease Control webpage and the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Tracker. 

"We understand the growing community concern surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19," said County Health Director Patricia Cooper in a press release, "Hood River County Health Department in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) continues to monitor developments regarding novel coronavirus, COVID-19, closely ... We are working with community partners in healthcare to coordinate our response in the event that we have a case identified in our community." 

The first presumptive positive case in Oregon, an adult resident of Washington County, experienced symptoms of COVID-19 beginning Feb. 19, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and was tested for the virus on Feb. 28. The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation, said OHA in an official release. Because the person had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, said OHA, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure — public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown.

The individual spent time in a school in the Lake Oswego School District and OHA states that they may have exposed students and staff there. Public health officials are investigating potential exposures there and will contact employees and families of children to let them know next steps, said OHA.

The Hood River County School District sent out an email to parents after the first case was confirmed, stating that custodial staff have put increased emphasis on cleaning high-contact areas and that the district is coordinating with local health officials. Parents were also reminded to keep their children home if they are sick.

“We understand that it is a concern and would like to reiterate that at this time, again, HRCSD does not have any reports of infected individuals but we need everyone’s help to maintain a healthy and safe school and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Sara Hahn-Huston in the email.

The second case is a Washington County resident who is an adult household contact of the initial presumptive positive case, said OHA in a statement released March 1. The individual was identified as a contact of the first person during the public health investigation. The individual did not require medical attention and remains isolated at home, said OHA.

A third presumptive positive case, confirmed Monday, March 2, is an adult Umatilla County resident hospitalized in Walla Walla, Wash. The case was one of Oregon’s pending cases and is not linked to travel to a part of the world with known cases of COVID-19, said OHA. As with the other two confirmed cases, it is considered a case of community transmission.

Preliminary reports indicate the Oregon resident attended a youth basketball game at a gymnasium at Weston Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 29, and Athena-Weston School District officials have since closed the gym and will conduct a deep cleaning “out of an abundance of caution,” said OHA in an official release. Oregon and Washington health experts are working together to determine if there are other locations where the individual may have interacted with other people in recent days, after symptoms of COVID-19 first appeared.

Health officials will announce if there are any additional locations where people may been exposed, if they are determined, said OHA.

“My thoughts are with the Oregonians who have contracted this virus, as well as their families. The developments of the last 48 hours in Oregon and across the globe are concerning, and we are taking this extremely seriously,” said Governor Kate Brown in an official statement released Sunday evening, before the third case was confirmed. “State and local health professionals are working around the clock to identify, treat, and contain each case of this disease. My commitment to Oregonians is that our state agencies will be as accurate, transparent, and swift as possible in conveying the information we have to the public, especially when new cases of the coronavirus are identified,” Brown said.

“Oregonians have a history of bringing out the best in each other in uncertain times,” she continued. “By staying calm and, yes, by doing the same simple things that protect us during cold and flu season — washing our hands, properly covering our coughs and sneezes, and staying home from school or work if we’re feeling sick —  we can help keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and safe.”

Brown convened a Coronavirus Response Team on Friday, before any cases had been confirmed in Oregon, and Brown stated Sunday that OHA’s COVID-19 incident management team has been working with state agencies and local health authorities to prepare for this scenario since January.

General questions and concerns regarding the coronavirus and the state’s response can be directed to the state’s helpline by dialing 211.

For more information, and to check for updated information about the coronavirus, visit the websites for OHA, www.oregon.gov/oha or the World Health Organization, www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19. Links to the Center for Disease Control’s webpage and the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Tracker are available via the Hood River County’s website, www.co.hood-river.or.us (for the County Health Department’s page, click “Health Department” under the County Departments tab).

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