Oregon Health Officials Confirm 3rd Presumed Coronavirus Case

By Donald Orr (OPB)
March 2, 2020 7:22 p.m.

Oregon health officials have identified a third presumptive case of COVID-19 Monday for an adult living in Umatilla County. The person has been hospitalized in Walla Walla, Washington.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, the case isn’t linked to travel, and is considered a case of community transmission. Officials haven’t released the patient’s age or gender.


The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said the person was an employee of Wildhorse Resort and Casino outside of Pendleton, according to the Hermiston Herald.

CTUIR communications director Chuck Sams said Wildhorse facilities associated with the casinos were temporarily closed at noon for cleaning and will remain closed for at least the next day.

Sams said the CTUIR board of trustees has set up an incident command headed by the Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center and supported by Tribal government employees. CTUIR has also closed the Nixyaawii Community School, the Senior Center and the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute for cleaning.

“We just want to make sure that our community is safe and healthy again, and we’ll be keeping a vigilant eye out as things progress,” Sams said.

Facilities will reopen by Tuesday morning, he said.

According to Sams, CTUIR is working with the Umatilla County Health Department to trace anyone who may have had contact with the third presumptive case.

The person attended a community youth basketball game at Weston Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Athena-Weston School District officials have closed the gym for deep cleaning out of "an abundance of caution," but said the risk for anyone who attended the game remains low. Health officials said the gym is physically detached from the rest of the school, and they do not consider the separate school building to pose any risk of exposure.


Oregon and Washington health officials said they are working together to trace any other locations where the individual may have been in recent days. Officials will announce if there are any additional places where people may have been exposed.

“I think that having three cases in Oregon — none of which seem to share a commonality and seem to have stemmed from community transmission — can indicate that this disease is likely fairly widespread in our community, as it is in many other communities from our neighbors in Washington and California,” said OHA state officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

On Monday, officials in King County, Washington, announced four additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 14 and the state's death toll to six. King County plans to purchase a motel and set up modular housing units to house COVID-19 patients in isolation.

Oregon is prepared to utilize a similar approach, if needed.

“For Oregon, we have been working with our local public health authority partners and with other partners throughout the state to identify housing for individuals who may need to have isolation or quarantine,” Sidelinger said.

“We haven’t needed that tool at this time.”

Officials said that while Washington has called for a state of emergency following the outbreak, Gov. Kate Brown and OHA have the resources needed without having to declare an emergency declaration.

Despite that, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday, requesting additional resources from the state of Oregon.

“We are monitoring this situation very closely, and we’re taking all precautions under the circumstances,” said Clackamas County Disaster Management Director Nancy Bush in a statement.

While Clackamas County declared a state of emergency, the Board did not declare the outbreak as a “public health emergency” as of Monday.

The second presumptive case of COVID-19 in Oregon was announced Sunday evening. That Washington County resident is "an adult household contact' of the first presumptive positive case in Lake Oswego.

OHA officials continue to recommend that people should stay home if they feel sick, wash their hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, disinfect surfaces, and take care of any other health conditions.

Oregon residents can call 211 or check OHA's Emerging Respiratory Disease page for more information.