UPDATE (March 7, 3:22 p.m. PT) — The number of presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus in Oregon has more than doubled, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
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Health officials confirmed four new cases Saturday morning — two cases in Jackson County, and one case each in Klamath and Washington counties. That brings the Oregon total to seven.
The new cases in Jackson and Klamath counties are travel-related, and the new case in Washington County is a person who was in contact with an existing case.
The two cases in Jackson County are adults in the same household between the ages of 55 and 74, Dr. Jim Shames, a local public health officer, said.
Health officials did not specify the age ranges for the other cases.
There were 40 tests pending in Oregon and 162 people being monitored for symptoms as of Saturday.
But testing limitations may conceal how fast the virus is spreading in Oregon.
The Oregon Health Authority is currently limiting testing to patients who have severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization and to people who have had contact with confirmed coronavirus patients.
They just don’t have enough tests to check everyone. That means, until more testing happens, there’s no real way of knowing how far the disease has spread in Oregon.
“I do think we are seeing increased interest in testing,” Oregon state health officer Dean Sidelinger said. “OHA has worked hard to streamline the process for those individuals who are hospitalized, who do not have flu, who have signs of viral pneumonia to ensure that health care providers can enter that information online and that tests will be approved without having to talk to our state doctors.”
He continued: “[For] other potential cases, we do still have health care providers calling us to discuss the need for testing and those are approved on a case by case basis.”
Grand Princess cruise ship coming to Astoria
Oregon health officials say they’re keeping an eye on the Grand Princess cruise ship, currently docked off of the California coast, that was slated to dock in Astoria later this month.
“Passengers from the Grand Princess are on our list of travel-associated notifications that we get from our federal partners,” Sidelinger said. “When we receive notification of a traveler from an area we contact them, assess any contacts they may have had and ask them to stay home and monitor for 14 days and check in with them regularly, and passengers who return from the Grand Princess would follow that same guidance.”
Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen said there are no specific updates on the cruise ship as of Saturday morning.
Though some schools have closed in Washington and other events around the country have been canceled, Sidelinger said Oregon health officials are generally not urging people to cancel group events.
But, Sidelinger said, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people with the highest risk factors regarding the COVID-19 virus — older people and people with underlying medical conditions — consider limiting their travel to events and gatherings and stay home as much as possible.
Southwest Washington's first case
In southwest Washington, Clark County confirmed its first presumptive positive case of the virus late Friday.
People who came into contact with Clark County's coronavirus patient are now in quarantine, according to Clark County Public Health.
Clark County Public Health said it also received results for two additional pending tests which turned out to be negative. The Clark County coronavirus patient is a male in his 70s.
He’s currently hospitalized and in isolation at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. He did not recently travel to a country where the virus is circulating, according to Clark County Public Health.
The vast majority of U.S. deaths from the virus have occurred in Washington state.
Sporting events still on
Oregon health officials have not yet urged cancellation of large gatherings like sporting events, but that may not be far off as the virus spreads throughout the region.
The Portland Timbers have installed more hand sanitizing stations throughout Providence Park ahead of a Sunday match against Nashville SC. Staff will also be disinfecting surfaces during match day and between events.
ESPN reported Friday night that the NBA is advising teams to prepare to play games without fans, limiting stadium access to "essential staff" only. The Portland Trail Blazers have six consecutive home games in the next two weeks.
The Oregon School Activities Association has state basketball championships in Baker City, Pendleton and Coos Bay this weekend and in Portland, Forest Grove and Corvallis next weekend. OSAA sent information to all member schools last week. They urged participants, staff and spectators to stay home if they're feeling sick and encouraged fans to "spread out in the venue, when possible."
Executive director Peter Weber said the OSAA is in regular contact with the Oregon Health Authority, sports medicine professionals, and athletic associations in neighboring states as the coronavirus situation evolves.
"At this point, we haven't had any conversations about canceling or postponing events," he said.
Washington state basketball tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane continued as scheduled this weekend, despite Gov. Jay Inslee weighing executive action to limit large events.
This story will be updated.