Your COVID-19 primer for Thursday, March 19
Ten new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Oregon on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 75 people.
That includes one in Benton County; two in Lane County; four in Marion County; two in Washington County; and one in Yamhill County.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also has claimed two more lives in Oregon, including a 60-year-old woman in Lane County who died at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend on Saturday, March 14, and a 71-year-old man in Washington County who died Tuesday, March 17, at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
The Lane County resident tested positive for the virus March 17, while the Washington County resident received a positive result on March 16. Both had underlying medical conditions.
In other news: Oregon is erecting a 250-bed temporary hospital in Salem so as to free up other hospital beds around the state for coronavirus patients.
The Oregon Medical Station is a mobile emergency hospital that the state purchased several years ago in case of a health crisis. Gov. Kate Brown said the facility, which is being set up at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, should be operational by Friday.
The state's goal is to slow the progression of COVID-19, so as not to overwhelm Oregon's health care system.
Gov. Brown also extended the statewide school closure to six weeks; until at least April 28. Schools districts are to continue to provide students and their families with the supplemental services such as meals, mental health services through the Oregon Department of Education and child care for emergency first responders and essential health care personnel. Districts also are to pay employees during the closure, Brown said.
The state is relaxing some rules around day care centers, as of Wednesday: The state will clamp down on certain operations at daycare centers, while expediting the ability for others to get cleared to work as childcare providers.
Brown also announced that all bars and restaurants must offer only takeout food and drink service, and not in-restaurant dining, effective immediately. She also banned gatherings of more than 25 people, statewide.
The city of Portland and Multnomah County unveiled sweeping new plans to address homelessness during the outbreak, including an eviction moratorium, business grants and hundreds of new shelter beds. Also, Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission meetings no longer will be held in public, to slow the spread of the virus.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a total of 7,038 COVID-19 cases in the United States. That's up sharply from Tuesday, when the count 4,226 cases.
The rapid increase in cases likely stems from further testing, rather than an actual increase in infections.
The CDC reports a total of 97 deaths as of Tuesday. That's up from 75 deaths on Tuesday.
The CDC webpage has not yet been updated for Thursday. This story will be reposted when it is.
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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