Hood River County has its first confirmed COVID-19 case, the Hood River County Health Department announced Sunday afternoon.

“As we have seen in other communities throughout the world, more cases will likely be identified in the coming weeks,” said the health department in an official release. “Hood River County Health Department is taking these results very seriously and will release any information we can to keep the community informed. However, the privacy of the patient is also a high priority.”

The patient is an adult, county officials confirmed, but no further identifying information has been released due to concerns for the patient’s privacy.

“The Hood River County Health Department is working diligently on all fronts to combat COVID-19,” said Public Health Officer Christopher Van Tilburg in a written statement on Monday. “We will not disclose Protected Health Information for our current or future cases unless necessary for public safety.”

County residents are reminded to stay home and to practice social distancing of six feet while in public, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, and cover their cough.

As of 8 a.m. on March 23 (most recent Oregon Health Authority update at the time of publication), 161 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Oregon.

A stay-home order for Oregon went into effect around noon on Monday, March 23, and remains in effect until terminated by Gov. Kate Brown. The order, which Brown titled “Stay Home, Save Lives,” is similar to shelter-in-place orders issued by other states, such as California and New York, and establishes restrictions on public activity that, if broken, qualify as a Class C misdemeanor.

“In a short time, COVID-19 has spread rapidly,” said Brown in the introductory statement to the executive order. “Additionally, some Oregonians are not adhering to social distancing guidance provided by the Oregon Health Authority, as represented by crowds this last weekend at the Oregon Coast, Smith Rock State Park, the Columbia River Gorge, and other places around the state. To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, to protect the health and lives of Oregonians, particularly those at highest risk, and to help avoid overwhelming local and regional healthcare capacity, I find that immediate implementation of additional measures is necessary.”

Under “Stay Home, Save Lives,” all “non-essential social and recreational gatherings” are prohibited, regardless of size, if a minimum 6-foot social distance can’t be maintained, and approximately 30 types of businesses are ordered to shut down (see above, below, for complete list), in addition to campgrounds, pools, skate parks, outdoor sports courts, and playground equipment areas. All other businesses, including restaurants and other food and beverage establishments offering take-out or delivery services, are allowed to stay open.

The order also authorizes the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to close any property or facility where proper social distancing can’t be maintained, and establishes guidelines for areas that do remain open.

Childcare facilities are allowed to remain open if they can keep children separated in “stable” groups of 10 or fewer — which means that the same kids need to be in the same group each day, and that groups aren’t in the same room — and facilities are directed to prioritize the childcare needs of first responders, emergency workers and healthcare professionals, followed by critical operations staff and “essential personnel.”

The order directs people to “minimize travel, other than essential travel,” defined as travel to work, to obtain food, shelter, “essential consumer needs,” education or healthcare; travel to care for family/household members and other vulnerable populations including the elderly, minors, persons with disabilities and vulnerable pets or livestock; and government-mandated travel, such as travel to court.

People are advised to obey social distancing guidelines “to the greatest extent possible” when they do leave their homes, and allows people to go outside for “recreational activities” so long as it is possible to maintain appropriate social distancing.

“The purpose of this executive order is to reduce person-to-person interaction with the goal of slowing transmission,” Brown said.

Shortly after Brown issued “Stay Home, Save Lives,” the City of Hood River announced that all of its public facilities — including Waterfront park, Jackson Park, Children’s Park, Tsuruta Tennis Courts, Collins Field and neighborhood parks — are now closed to promote social distancing and public health.

“I’m asking all residents and visitors who love Hood River to please pay attention to guidance from healthcare professionals and stay home,” said Mayor Kate McBride in a press release. “We need to stop all non-essential travel both into and out of our community.”

For more information on COVID-19 and local emergency response, visit getreadygorge.com or call Hood River County Emergency Management’s public info call-in line, 541-399-8022 in English and 541-399-8023 in Spanish.

This story was sent to press Monday afternoon and, because this story is developing rapidly, information may be out of date by time of publication. Please see hoodrivernews.com for the latest updates.

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(1) comment

Irene Fields

The County Health Dept could release a little more information without compromising the Covid-19 patient's privacy. What events did they attend within the past week? What part of the county do they live in? County residents would take the risk more seriously if given more information, and respond with heightened caution.

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