Oregon declares state of emergency as coronavirus lands in Portland

Mar 9 2020, 11:54 am

The State of Oregon officially declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to the continued spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 disease in Oregon.

The declaration will immediately put a $5 million emergency fund on the voting table for the Oregon Emergency Board on Monday, with hopes that bolstered testing and isolation equipment will help quell the growing number of cases among its counties.

Governor Kate Brown’s state of emergency declaration will give access to funds and materials needed to better combat the spread of the virus. It also grants freedom to the OHA to make potentially crucial decisions without normal bureaucratic processes greatly lengthening the reaction time.

In a statement from the Oregon Health Authority, Director Patrick Allen said, “We are prepared to activate an unprecedented state and private effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon by focusing specifically on at-risk populations. We want to protect Oregonians at greatest risk of the most severe outcomes of this disease, including older adults, people with underlying conditions, people who are homeless, and those who are vulnerable in other ways.”

Currently, OHA isn’t recommending canceling any large-scale gatherings around Oregon, simply suggesting that those 60 years old and above, or those with pre-existing health complications, steer clear of said events.

State health officials are still “focusing on high-risk patients” for testing, as coronavirus test kits are still scarce.

Coronavirus patients in Oregon have climbed to 14 confirmed cases over the weekend, and Allen says that “contact investigations have begun to identify and isolate anyone who may have been in close contact with these new cases.”

These new cases include at least one person being treated and potentially multiple people under investigation for infection at the Oregon Health & Science University hospital in Portland.

“Any employees, trainees, and visitors who may have been exposed are being contacted directly,” said the OHSU in a statement.

Cases across the United States have risen from 260 on Friday to over 600 as of Monday.

OHA officials advice residents to do the following to minimize their risk of infection:

  • Minimize contact with people who may be ill
  • Avoid large public gatherings
  • Order prescriptions by mail
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Don’t touch anywhere on your face
  • Clean surfaces