Coronavirus, health, Salem

State of emergency declared to address coronavirus

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

SALEM – As of Sunday morning, the number of presumed positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Oregon rose to 14, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). 

On the heels of Washington County’s declaration of emergency, where eight of the 14 cases now are, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency to address the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. 

“This news is concerning for all Oregonians, but my resolve and that of my administration to address this public health crisis is unchanged,” said Brown. “This emergency declaration gives the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management all the resources at the state’s disposal to stem the spread of this disease. We will do everything it takes, within our power and in coordination with federal and local officials, to keep Oregonians safe.”

According to a press release from Brown’s press office, Brown verbally declared the state of emergency on Saturday evening at 8:14, with a written declaration following Sunday morning. 

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The order, among other things, authorizes the OHA to activate emergency volunteer healthcare professionals, designate emergency health care centers, and issue guidelines for private businesses regarding appropriate work restrictions. 

The OHA also released guidelines and best practices for schools, universities, and colleges, urging school officials to keep facilities open where no cases of COVID-19 are present, and to examine all available alternatives before closing a school if the coronavirus is detected among students or staff.

The guidelines recommend a number of measures to reduce the spread of illness, including enforcing hand washing, sanitizing high-use areas, and more.

In the Banks School District, officials are scheduled to receive a briefing about the outbreak during a regular school board meeting on Monday, March 9 at 6 p.m. at the district offices, located at 12950 NW Main Street in Banks.

To find out more about the coronavirus in Washington County and Oregon, visit the respective county, state, and federal health department websites. 

According to the OHA, some precautions to take regarding the coronavirus are:

• wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer 

• avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands 

• avoid contact with people who are sick 

• stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others 

• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, and, very rarely, death. Some may have mild symptoms, and others may have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. The OHA asks those worried they may be at risk to call their health care provider for instructions and advice.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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