Your COVID-19 primer for Friday, March 20
Oregon now has 88 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Thirteen new cases were reported as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 19, including two in Linn County, five in Marion County, four in Multnomah County and two in Washington County.
Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday decided not to issue a "shelter in place" order for the entire state; as California Gov. Gavin Newsom did that day. People are still being encouraged not to take unnecessary trips into the community and to stay home if they can. Both Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said they are considering shelter-in-place orders.
Brown also called for the delivery of more protective equipment and supplies for health care workers. She confirmed the state "received about 25% of the request," she'd made to the federal government for personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns. Other providers, such as veterinarians and dentists offices, have helped by funneling such protective equipment to the state command center for use by health care workers who are likely treating patients with COVID-19.
It's also unclear whether the state has enough financial resources to cover the flood of unemployment claims coming in. The Oregonian/OregonLive reported this week that 18,500 unemployment claims were filed in a single day, Tuesday; a filing rate increase in Oregon of nearly 3,200%.
Brown stopped short of saying the state doesn't have enough money to cover the surge in people seeking unemployment benefits, but said federal aid would be key in helping cover the costs.
All seven of Oregon's four-year universities are moving to online learning rather than classrooms this spring, and commencement exercises will be canceled.
But as Tribune reporter Courtney Vaughn points out, distance learning can't readily replace classroom learning for Oregon's public K-12 schools. That's because not all students have computers or fast internet connections at home, and federal law prohibits public schools from creating educational plans in which low-income families cannot participate.
As of Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a total of 10,442 COVID-19 cases in the United States. That's up sharply from Wednesday, when the count 7,038 cases.
The rapid increase in cases likely stems from further testing, rather than an actual increase in infections.
The CDC reports a total of 150 deaths as of Thursday. That's up from 97 deaths on Wednesday.
The CDC numbers have not yet been updated for Friday. This story will be re-posted when the numbers are available.
The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on Jan. 21.
Readers can track the daily spread of the disease here.
What do we know about COVID-19?
It's a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.
The name COVID-19 stems from the disease's origin: (CO)rona(VI)rus (D)isease that first emerged in 20(19).
The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Find out more at the CDC website.
How is it spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another — "close" meaning within about 6 feet — through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. (It also may be possible that people can get it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.) Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at this site.
As of Monday, March 16, the CDC is recommending that no gatherings of 50 people or more be held in the United States for the next two months.
What are the symptoms?
Most patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, a cough and shortness of breath. In the more severe cases, some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and, in some cases, death.
How can I help protect myself?
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
What should you do if you're sick?
Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. And clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19?
If you have traveled from an affected area, there may be restrictions on your movements for up to two weeks. If you develop symptoms during that period — such as a fever, cough or trouble breathing — seek medical advice. Call your health care provider before you go, and explain about your travel and your symptoms. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don't go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.
Is there a vaccine?
Just like the common cold, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. Call your doctor first before going it, to avoid exposing others.
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