First presumed case of novel coronavirus found in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.– Oregon is presumed to have a coronavirus case of unknown origin.

During a press conference Friday evening, Governor Kate Brown and Oregon health officials say a person tested positive for the strain of the virus known as COVID-19.

“Oregonians should know we are taking this very seriously,” said Governor Brown.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, symptoms of the virus began to show in the person around February 19. Tests at a lab in Hillsboro were conducted and came back positive. Health officials say it’s presumptive at this point though until they receive a confirmation test from the CDC acknowledging whether they have the same result or not.

Details on the patient are limited but health officials say the person was from Washington County and is currently isolated at the Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro.

“There’s no known travel exposure for this individual so this is a case of community spread of the disease,” said Pat Allen, Oregon Health Authority director.

The person was not being monitored or under investigation according to OHA. It was revealed they are employed in the Lake Oswego School District and spent time at Forest Hills Elementary School in Clackamas County. The school district has since stated the school will be shut down for the time being.

Public health officials will be contacting employees and families of students to inform them about exposure and how to identify symptoms. It’s unknown what risk at this time is posed to students or their families.

“We’re working tonight and through the weekend to determine where this person spent their time, who may have had close and prolonged contact with that person,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines.

There is a second case in the state currently pending confirmation. OHA would not share where but says the two cases are not connected. Governor Brown and authorities are assuring the public that the state was expecting this and have plans in place.

“Most people who contract this disease it’s like any other coronavirus where the disease itself is relatively mild,” said Allen. “A small percentage of people will have a serious disease.”

While there is no vaccine currently, health officials say there are preventative measures such as coughing and sneezing away from others, washing your hands and isolating yourself if you start to develop cold symptoms. In that case, you’re asked to contact your doctor to let them know.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley recently launched a resource page for more information about Oregon’s current updates and the coronavirus strain COVID-19. You can that website on the senator’s page or by clicking here.

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