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Here's what you need to know as of today about the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A road sign offers advice to drivers on social distancing.

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COVID-19 claimed another life in Oregon, raising the state's death toll on Saturday from three to four.

The Oregon Health Authority also reported 23 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the state total to 137,] as of 8 a.m. Saturday.

The newest death is that of a 72-year-old woman in Marion County, who tested positive on March 15, and who died Thursday, March 20, at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center. She had underlying medical conditions.

The new COVID-19 cases reported Saturday include one new case each in Clackamas, Deschutes, Josephine and Lane counties; two cases in Marion County; six in Multnomah County; and 11 in Washington.

Oregon Health Authority reports new cases once a day on its website:www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

The situation is much different in the state of Washington, which, as of Friday, reported 1,376 cases of the virus and 74 deaths related to COVID-19.

On Saturday, a consortium of metro-area mayors urged Gov. Kate Brown to enforce stricter rules about mandatory guarantine and "essential" businesses, without defining what "essential" means. The vote by the area mayors followed a chaotic press conference on Friday by Brown, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, which failed to clarify the rules on quarantine and which businesses must be closed.

A press release on Saturday from the Oregon Health Authority read: "Yes, you can go for a walk or hike while practicing social distancing. It's the weekend and you want to get out and enjoy the sun. Getting outdoors is good for your body and soul. Just be sure to maintain 6 feet between you and people you encounter. Eating healthy, getting exercise and plenty of sleep are important ways to help keep your body resilient."

Gov. 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,

Cases elsewhere

The center is not updating its website on weekends.

As of Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a total of 15,219 COVID-19 cases in the United States. That's up sharply from Thursday, when the count hit 10,4422 cases.

The rapid increase in cases likely stems from further testing, rather than an actual increase in infections.

The CDC reports a total of 201 deaths as of Thursday. That's up from 150 deaths on Wednesday.

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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