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Dr. Andy Olson accepts donations of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) from Melanie Quigley, center, and Jennifer Kaden, Monday in front of the County Building, in a new campaign that started March 27 under the aegis of the County Health Department. The donation request is in response to the shortage of PPE by medical providers and others, due to COVID concerns. The program accepts any PPE equipment, but need is highest for masks, gowns, and gloves. Respirators and N95 masks are the most protective masks for first responders. The program is accepting used and new masks and other equipment Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1-2 p.m., at the County building, on Sixth and State streets. Olson said the first donation day drew about 15 people, some with small amounts, other with boxes and bins. Several orchardists brought volumes of masks, according to Olson. Donations will be accepted on the exterior of the building to limit exposure indoors and practice safe distancing.

Hood River County has confirmed its second case of COVID-19, and an additional two cases have been confirmed in Wasco County, bringing the countywide total up to five. Statewide, as of publication Monday afternoon, there are 548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the State of Oregon — 13 of which resulted in a fatality.
No identifying information was released for the Hood River patient or the two additional Wasco County cases, other than all three are self-isolating at home.
“Hood River County Health Department is taking this very seriously and we have notified the close contacts of the infected person, and there have been minimal contacts in our community,” said the Hood River County Health Department in a press release. “… There may be additional and unidentified cases in our community. Please stay home, stay safe, and maintain social distancing. As we have seen in other communities throughout the state, more cases will likely be identified in the coming weeks.”
The Wasco County Health Department confirmed that infection appears to be via community transmission.
Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties have launched a Unified Command to coordinate plans, supplies and resources for the three counties. They are posting updates and information at wascoshermangilliamcovid-19.com. Residents can also call 211 for info.
Hood River County has activated their respective Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is responsible for planning, preparing, responding to, and aiding community recovery from disasters. Updates and info are being posted at getreadygorge.com. Residents can also call the public info call-in line,  English at 541-299-8022, Spanish at 541-299-8023.
Hood River County School District principals, teachers and staff are back to work — mostly virtually —  this week as they plan to launch supplementary instruction for students April 6.
“There are still many factors in the air for us right now as we develop our plans including our ability to provide internet services to families who will need it and how to distribute technology devices to our students,” reads a statement on the district website. “As you can imagine, most internet hotspots are on backorder and this could delay our starting date for those who may utilize instruction through technology.” More information is expected to be sent out to parents April 3, and the district is updating its website, hoodriver.k12.or.us.
Following Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order last week, recreation sites statewide — including parks and open areas owned by the City or Port of Hood River, all Army-Corps campgrounds, and Hood River County Forest staging areas — have shut down their properties to encourage proper social distancing. Within the National Scenic Area boundaries, all National Forest System lands are closed as of March 26, and will remain closed until further notice.
“We acknowledge that this closure comes at a time when many were seeking respite in natural areas; however, this is a temporary pause to help health authorities get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Thank you for doing your part to help prevent the spread of the disease,” said Lynn Burditt, forest supervisor for the national scenic area, in a press release.
A few days after declaring the new executive order, Gov. Brown issued further guidance for Oregonians on following it:
“My top priority is to keep Oregonians safe and healthy — whether they are living sheltered or unsheltered — as we focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Brown in a press release. “That is why my executive order directs Oregonians to stay home whenever possible and prohibits social and recreational gatherings. I know that in practice this may look different for each Oregonian, but the spirit of the order is clear: Limit your social circles to your utmost ability.”
The advice for combating the spread of COVID-19 remains the same: Stay home when you can, and maintain at least 6-feet of distance between you and others when you are out; wash hands with soap and water frequently; and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands. If you do get sick, you are advised to self-isolate at home, even if you have mild symptoms. Most cases of COVID-19 will recover without medical intervention, but if you have difficulty breathing, or any other serious medical emergency, call 911. Anyone with questions is advised to call their primary medical provider.

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