NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 28th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: New coronavirus cases reported in Washington and Oregon

Chances are, COVID-19 is on your mind as we head into the last day of Feb­ru­ary. It’s dom­i­nat­ing the news, said to be the cat­a­lyst of one of the worst stock mar­ket slumps in his­to­ry, and result­ing in the can­cel­la­tion of many pub­lic gath­er­ings and cor­po­rate trav­el plans. At NPI, we believe it’s always best to have accu­rate, up to date, and sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly vet­ted infor­ma­tion read­i­ly acces­si­ble.

So, here’s a roundup of news from today per­tain­ing to new cas­es of the nov­el coro­n­avirus and what states are doing to com­bat the dis­ease.

We begin with some break­ing news from pub­lic health author­i­ties. The fol­low­ing is a news release from the State Depart­ment of Health.

For con­text, we’re run­ning it in its entire­ty.

OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON – The Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health, Pub­lic Health – Seat­tle & King Coun­ty, and Sno­homish Health Dis­trict, are announc­ing two new cas­es of COVID-19, cur­rent­ly clas­si­fied as “pre­sump­tive pos­i­tives.”

A pre­sump­tive pos­i­tive is a test that comes back pos­i­tive at the Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry and is pend­ing con­fir­ma­tion at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC.)

The indi­vid­u­als reside in both King and Sno­homish Coun­ties. In King Coun­ty, a woman in her 50s with con­firmed trav­el to Daegu, South Korea is a pre­sump­tive pos­i­tive. She is cur­rent­ly in home iso­la­tion.

In Sno­homish Coun­ty, a per­son under the age of eigh­teen with no trav­el his­to­ry is also a pre­sump­tive pos­i­tive. He is cur­rent­ly in home iso­la­tion as well. That patient vis­it­ed Seat­tle Children’s North Clin­ic on Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 24th, 2020.

Sno­homish Coun­ty Health Dis­trict is work­ing along­side the Everett Pub­lic Schools to ensure the safe­ty of stu­dents and staff at Jack­son High School, where this stu­dent attends. Everett Pub­lic Schools is tak­ing this very seri­ous­ly and in an abun­dance of cau­tion, the super­in­ten­dent has decid­ed to close Jack­son High School on Mon­day to allow three days for deep clean­ing.

While the King Coun­ty case is believed to be trav­el-relat­ed, we don’t know how or where the new Sno­homish Coun­ty case was infect­ed. We are work­ing hard to find and iden­ti­fy how the patients were exposed as well as trac­ing peo­ple who might have been exposed to this patient.

“Now that we are able to expe­dite test results here at the Pub­lic Health Lab in Shore­line, we’re get­ting results on sus­pect­ed local cas­es a lot faster,” said State Health Offi­cer Dr. Kathy Lofy.

“Giv­en the extent of glob­al spread, we expect to iden­ti­fy more indi­vid­u­als with COVID-19 in Wash­ing­ton. We want to empha­size the impor­tance of prac­tic­ing good health habits.”

COVID-19 has the poten­tial to be a seri­ous health risk in our coun­try. Health depart­ments at the fed­er­al, state, and local lev­el are work­ing togeth­er and with oth­er part­ners to pre­pare.

Health­care sys­tems are get­ting ready to poten­tial­ly see more patients than usu­al. Schools are receiv­ing updat­ed guid­ance on what to do to stay safe if they have cas­es, and what pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures they should take if they do not.

How can you pre­vent the spread of COVID-19?

  • Pre­ven­tion starts with prac­tic­ing good per­son­al health habits: Wash your hands often with soap and water,
  • Stay home when you’re sick,
  • Cov­er your coughs and sneezes with a tis­sue,
  • Clean fre­quent­ly touched sur­faces and objects.
  • Get­ting plen­ty of rest, drink­ing flu­ids, eat­ing healthy foods, and man­ag­ing your stress can help you pre­vent get­ting COVID-19 and recov­er from it if you do.

DOH has estab­lished a call cen­ter to address ques­tions from the pub­lic. If you have ques­tions about what is hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton state please call 1–800-525‑0127 and press #.

Want to watch the news con­fer­ence? The video is avail­able.

Now on to Ore­gon, where a coro­n­avirus case was report­ed in Lake Oswego:

per­son in Ore­gon is sick with the first pre­sump­tive case of the new coro­n­avirus in the state, Ore­gon health offi­cials said Fri­day. The news con­fer­ence is hap­pen­ing now.

Offi­cials say the patient, an adult, is employed at a school in Clacka­mas Coun­ty and may have exposed stu­dents and staff there. The school district’s plan­ning to close the school to allow pub­lic health offi­cials to com­plete their inves­ti­ga­tion, includ­ing con­tact­ing employ­ees there and fam­i­ly of chil­dren to inform them of their expo­sure and let them know next steps.

If you’d like to watch a video of the news con­fer­ence, it’s avail­able on Face­book.

Both the Ore­gon case announced ear­li­er today and one of the new Wash­ing­ton cas­es of COVID-19 con­cern indi­vid­u­als who are believed to have been exposed to the dis­ease here in the Pacif­ic North­west, as opposed to abroad.

Pri­or to the announce­ment of the Ore­gon case, Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown announced the for­ma­tion of a statewide response team to mobi­lize the full resources of the Beaver State against COVID-19.

Gov­er­nor Brown’s news release detail­ing this effort is repro­duced below.

SALEM, OREGON — Gov­er­nor Kate Brown today con­vened a Coro­n­avirus Response Team tasked with coor­di­nat­ing state and local agen­cies and health author­i­ties in prepa­ra­tion for response to the coro­n­avirus, also known as COVID-19.

The team will build on the work of the Ore­gon Health Authority’s (OHA) coro­n­avirus inci­dent man­age­ment team to pre­pare Ore­gon to respond to any poten­tial out­breaks of the dis­ease.

“Let me be clear, as of today there are zero con­firmed cas­es of coro­n­avirus in Ore­gon, and the risk to Ore­go­ni­ans of con­tract­ing the coro­n­avirus remains low,” said Gov­er­nor Brown.

“How­ev­er, in an esca­lat­ing glob­al health cri­sis, we must make sure we are as ready and informed as we can be.”

“The pur­pose of the Coro­n­avirus Response Team is to ensure we are tak­ing every pre­cau­tion nec­es­sary, in coor­di­na­tion with local health author­i­ties, hos­pi­tals, com­mu­ni­ty health part­ners, and school dis­tricts, to make sure that Ore­gon is ful­ly pre­pared to respond to any out­breaks of the coro­n­avirus and that Ore­go­ni­ans know how they can keep their fam­i­lies safe.”

The Coro­n­avirus Response Team will meet reg­u­lar­ly to coor­di­nate coro­n­avirus response and prepa­ra­tion, to update the Gov­er­nor as the inter­na­tion­al sit­u­a­tion devel­ops, and make rec­om­men­da­tions to the Gov­er­nor to safe­guard pub­lic health.

Since the first report­ed cas­es of COVID-19 over­seas, state agen­cies have tak­en a num­ber of actions to pre­pare in Oregon:State agen­cies are review­ing readi­ness plans to ensure state gov­ern­ment is able to main­tain a con­ti­nu­ity of oper­a­tions and ser­vices in the event that coro­n­avirus impacts agency oper­a­tions.

State, coun­ty, and trib­al health offi­cials are mon­i­tor­ing peo­ple who may have come into con­tact with the dis­ease or trav­eled to main­land Chi­na for symp­toms like cough­ing or fever dur­ing the two weeks after they return, pro­vid­ing health edu­ca­tion, and are pre­pared to link peo­ple with appro­pri­ate health care if symp­toms devel­op.

Start­ing this week, OHA is pro­vid­ing week­ly pub­lic updates about how many peo­ple are being mon­i­tored in Ore­gon, as well as shar­ing updates about how Ore­gon fam­i­lies can help pre­vent the spread of coro­n­avirus on OHA’s COVID-19 web­site.

Ore­gon hos­pi­tals and health providers have scaled up their pre­pared­ness efforts, and OHA is con­duct­ing ongo­ing out­reach to health facil­i­ties to sup­port train­ing and pre­pared­ness, as well as mon­i­tor­ing health care avail­abil­i­ty and needs.

“Ore­gon has proven its resilien­cy in prepar­ing for and respond­ing to Ebo­la, H1N1 influen­za, Zika, and oth­er glob­al pub­lic health threats,” said OHA Direc­tor Pat Allen.

“Each time, Oregon’s pub­lic health and health care sys­tems and their part­ners have found ways to strength­en our col­lec­tive response. If the coro­n­avirus comes to Ore­gon, we will be ready.”

Pub­lic aware­ness is key to pre­vent­ing the spread of coro­n­avirus. Just as with flu sea­son, con­tain­ing coro­n­avirus starts with every­one –– at home, in the work­place, and at school –– prac­tic­ing good hygiene through reg­u­lar hand­wash­ing, prop­er cov­er­ing of coughs and sneezes, rou­tine clean­ing of work­spaces, kitchens, and bath­rooms, and stay­ing home when sick or symp­to­matic.

Tips for pre­vent­ing the spread of the coro­n­avirus include:

  • Cov­er your coughs and sneezes with a tis­sue and then throw the tis­sue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alco­hol-based hand san­i­tiz­er.
  • Avoid close con­tact with peo­ple who are sick. Avoid touch­ing your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and dis­in­fect sur­faces peo­ple often touch.
  • Con­sult trav­el advi­sories if you plan to trav­el out­side of the U.S.
  • Take care of your health over­all. Stay­ing cur­rent on your vac­ci­na­tions, includ­ing flu vac­cine, eat­ing well and exer­cis­ing all help your body stay resilient.

As with earth­quakes and oth­er nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, it’s impor­tant for all Ore­gon­ian fam­i­lies to be Two Weeks Ready, with an ample sup­ply of food, water, pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions, pet food, san­i­ta­tion sup­plies, and any­thing else they would need to shel­ter in place for an extend­ed peri­od of time if it becomes nec­es­sary.

Pub­lic health author­i­ties stress that peo­ple ought to fol­low their reg­u­lar sched­ules and rou­tines to the extent pos­si­ble. There is no need to pan­ic.

How­ev­er, every­one should adopt a strin­gent hand­wash­ing reg­i­men and get into the habit of reg­u­lar­ly wip­ing down sur­faces, includ­ing elec­tron­ic devices.

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