UPDATED (March 9, 5:53 p.m. PT) — As of Monday afternoon, there have been no new cases of the novel coronavirus, with Oregon’s total standing at 14. Eleven of those cases were just announced over the weekend.

The Oregon Health Authority intends to release the results of 52 tests Tuesday. State officials also said they’ve completed monitoring of 291 people. They’ve been released after not developing symptoms for two weeks, according to OHA. But health officials said they anticipate more positive cases in the weeks to come.

“We do think that even though we are reporting 14 cases, [t]his disease is much more widespread in our community as many of these cases were identified as potential community transmission,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, OHA’s state health officer and epidemiologist, said. 

With the number of cases on the rise, health officials are urging people to take precautionary measures to protect people who are most vulnerable to the disease: older populations and people with underlying conditions.

“With no vaccine and no treatment, we have two goals right now: the first is to slow the spread of the virus enough to keep our health systems running, so they can offer life saving care to those who need it, when they need it,” Tri-County health officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said.

“[The second] is we need to protect the elderly and the medically fragile, because it is increasingly clear that these individuals are at high-risk of serious complications and death.”

OHA clarified that based on data from other countries, “older adults” — classified as people 60 and older by the CDC — are vulnerable to the disease regardless of their health status.

Children or adults with underlying conditions such as respiratory illness, cardiac disease, diabetes or obesity — regardless of their age — would also be at a higher risk.

OHA also gave guidance for crowds and mass gatherings in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The CDC has urged older adults and those with underlying medical conditions to avoid crowds, and that anyone planning any kind of gathering should have a strong message about sick people not attending,” Vines said. 

Officials said they’ve not had reports of particular strains in terms of capacity or staff, but are watching closely.

Department Of Human Services Assessing Care Facilities For Illness Prevention

The Oregon Department of Human Services announced Monday afternoon its plans to review nursing, assisted living and residential care communities across the state, including those providing memory care. 

According to DHS, the specialized inspections are designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities that care for Oregonians who are most at-risk. The reviews will focus on each facility’s emergency preparedness and infection control practices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 70 licensing staff members with the Office of Aging and People with Disabilities will be focused on the statewide review process, with approximately 670 care facilities being assessed.

“We are dedicated to doing everything possible to work in partnership with care providers to protect vulnerable Oregonians,” DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht said. 

While DHS is prioritizing care facilities that serve older adults and people with disabilities, the agency will also assess plans for other facilities it oversees, such as children’s residential programs.

What To Know About The New Coronavirus

The new coronavirus is spreading across the Pacific Northwest. Here some basic things to know:

• Coronavirus is more severe and more contagious than the flu. Take it seriously but don’t panic.
• The elderly and immune-compromised are most at-risk, but everyone can get sick.
• If you are sick stay home, self-quarantine and call your doctor.
• Practice social distancing. Avoid large gatherings, or small gatherings in tight spaces. At-risk people and people with underlying conditions should stay at home.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is a backup option.
• Cough into a sleeve. Wash hands after coughing. Avoid touching your face.
• Sterilize things you touch often, like computers, phones, keys, and tablets.
• If you have prescriptions, call your doctor and ask for a 3-month supply in case of drug shortages.

More questions about the new coronavirus, answered


The emergency declaration allows OHA to activate reserves of emergency volunteer health care professionals, bringing “auxiliary medical professionals” to work with local health authorities to identify and contain new cases throughout the state.

“This is particularly important because of the cases identified in rural Oregon – it unlocks valuable support to help local public health authorities,” Brown said. 

The declaration also “grants broad authority to the State Public Health Director, OHA and the Office of Emergency Management, allowing the agencies to take immediate action and devote all available state resources towards containing the coronavirus in Oregon.”

Oregon Officials Not Recommending Schools, Colleges Close

Authorities said they expect to see more cases, but emphasized that everyone can take actions to reduce the spread of the virus. For the time being, the state is not calling for preemptive steps to include the shuttering of school buildings, college campuses or preschools, nor are officials suggesting that large-scale events should be canceled.

“Our recommendation is not to cancel large-scale events,” Allen said. “Our recommendation is that people who are at risk – those who are over 60, those who have underlying health conditions, should seriously consider whether they want to attend an event like that, because they are at risk.”

The leaders of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission and the Oregon Department of Education echoed the advice of public health officials in saying they intend to avoid closing schools in the face of the novel coronavirus. That statement coincided with officials announcing that one of Oregon’s 14 identified cases is a middle school student in Hillsboro. Hillsboro School District superintendent Mike Scott said district staff thoroughly cleaned South Meadows Middle School Sunday.

The Hillsboro middle school welcomed students back to school Monday, a day after district officials announced a student at the school had contracted COVID-19. The student hasn’t been at school since last Tuesday, but the news impacted attendance anyway. Preliminary absentee numbers show 318 of the school’s 736 students didn’t show up to school Monday - meaning 43% of the student body stayed home. 

Last week, an average of 30 students a day missed school. District-wide absences were way up, too, from approximately 1000 absences a day last week to 1831 Monday.

District superintendent Mike Scott said South Meadows Middle School received an “enhanced cleaning” Sunday. 

The Daily Emerald reports the University of Oregon has canceled its spring term study abroad programs in countries with major outbreaks, including South Korea, China and Italy. The university also cancelled student trips to New York, San Francisco and Hawaii.

Officials say the virus is now in the community, and schools don’t pose a greater risk of contagion. Their emphasis is on frequent hand-washing, cleaning buildings and having staff and children stay home, if they’re sick.

They also stressed that coughing is a main means of transmission, and reiterated that those most at risk of catching the virus are people who live with an infected person, or who are in close contact.

The Oregon Health Authority confirmed seven cases Saturday, and The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that a patient at Oregon Health and Science University has now tested presumptive positive for the virus. According to the paper, OHSU employees were alerted over the weekend to the case.

Gov. Kate Brown Declares A State Of Emergency

Lawmakers on the Oregon Emergency Board approved $5 million in emergency funds early Monday for the state’s response to coronavirus.

That follows Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency over the novel coronavirus. The state of emergency remains in effect for 60 days, but could be extended if necessary. 

“This emergency declaration gives the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management all the resources at our state’s disposal to stem the spread of this disease,” Brown said in a press conference Sunday.

The number of presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus in Oregon doubled again as of Sunday morning, with seven new cases – one in Douglas County, one in Marion County and five more in Washington County. That brings the Oregon total to 14.

The emergency declaration allows OHA to activate reserves of emergency volunteer health care professionals, bringing “auxiliary medical professionals” to work with local health authorities to identify and contain new cases throughout the state.

“This is particularly important because of the cases identified in rural Oregon – it unlocks valuable support to help local public health authorities,” Brown said. 

The declaration also “grants broad authority to the State Public Health Director, OHA and the Office of Emergency Management, allowing the agencies to take immediate action and devote all available state resources towards containing the coronavirus in Oregon.”

Oregon Focuses Testing On Most At-Risk

Oregon health officials said Sunday that the state is specifically focusing on containing COVID-19 among vulnerable at-risk populations, including older adults, people with underlying conditions and the unhoused. OHA said the agency is working with homeless service providers and care facilities for the elderly.

Testing is still limited to patients at highest risk – people who have severe viral lung infections, have traveled to high-risk locations or have come into close contact with confirmed cases. OHA is finalizing agreements with major hospital systems to expand locations where COVID-19 tests can be conducted safely. So far, tests could only be conducted at one lab for the entire state, at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. Officials also aim to expand “telemedicine” for patients so they can be screened without coming into a clinic or hospital.

The state administration and health departments are also collaborating with hospitals. According to the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, OAHHS is working with the state administration to address needs in supplies, capacity and staffing.

“Hospitals are on the front lines responding to the outbreak and are committed to providing critical inpatient and community health services to respond to this evolving situation,” said OAHHS President and CEO Becky Hultberg in a statement.

On a call with reporters Sunday afternoon, OHA director Patrick Allen said his agency expects to get additional testing capacity up and running soon. But Allen couldn’t say how quickly the capacity would occur, or how many more tests it could mean Oregon would conduct on a daily basis.

Washington Contemplates Social Distancing Requirements

Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, warning that social distancing requirements may be necessary to stem the spread of coronavirus in his state. Inslee said he’s not necessarily talking about quarantines, but about limiting large gatherings, to reduce possible social exposure to the virus.

Washington announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday afternoon – of those 12, two were deaths. Both were residents of the Life Care Center of Kirkland, where 70 of its 180 employees have shown COVID-19 symptoms and are no longer working. Health officials reported 18 deaths in Washington as of Sunday afternoon. In southwest Washington, Clark County announced its first presumptive case of the disease on Friday.

Elizabeth Miller contributed to this story.