While COVID-19 is new, preparing for responses to public health issues, medical emergencies, and disasters is not new to our hospital. In fact, emergency preparedness training is a year-round activity that is done within our hospital and clinic system. We take preparedness seriously 365 days a year.
As of March 2nd, Oregon had three presumptive cases – two in Washington County and one in Umatilla County. Until test results are confirmed by the CDC, these cases remain presumed positive, not confirmed. While there is potential for this virus to spread in Oregon, we do not have any cases in Union County at this time. However, our hospital and clinics treat patients with a variety of infectious diseases on a daily basis. These patients are isolated and treated in appropriate spaces by our trained staff using specialized equipment.
When there is a concern that a disease such as COVID-19 could cause a surge of patients, we do step up our preparedness and coordinate our activities with local and state public health authorities. We share information and best practices, but also deploy the specific strategies that will work best within our facilities and in response to the changing situation.
While much is still unknown about COVID-19, a clearer picture is emerging and we continue to refine our responses based on new information. Currently, we are meeting and teleconferencing regularly with our local public health officials at the Center for Human Development (CHD), as well as the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
We urge the public to seek information on COVID-19 from trusted sources linked here; our state (OHA) and local (CHD) public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We also hope to keep the COVID-19 concerns in perspective. Influenza, for example, is more widely spread and also has the potential to cause death. In fact, the CDC reports Influenza caused more than 4,000 deaths in the U.S. in both 2018 and in 2019.
The best protection during a public health concern like COVID-19 is the same as any Upper Respiratory Illness (URI) such as the flu, which we are seeing in our hospital and clinics. Please take the following precautions:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick – use a six-foot buffer rule.
- Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away. DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS TO COVER A COUGH OR SNEEZE.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.