By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
On Wednesday night, there were eight packs of N95 respirator masks left at Ace Hardware on 3rd Street in Bend.
The store’s manager, who didn’t want his name used, said the masks started selling quickly last week — when fears of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, started to increase.
A lot of masks have been purchased by people leaving on trips, the manager said.
Ace Hardware’s distribution center is out of masks and the manager doesn’t know when a new shipment will come in.
Fears of coronavirus may have reached Central Oregon, but Morgan Emerson, a preparedness coordinator with Deschutes County, says the community shouldn’t worry just yet.
“Right now in the United States we’re not seeing any community spread of the COVID-19,” Emerson said. “The risk to the American public remains low, and that’s true of Central Oregon as well.”
Emerson says Deschutes County is monitoring people who have traveled to areas where coronavirus is present.
The county is also working with health care providers to identify patients who may need to be tested for the disease.
Emerson says their focus right now is less on the coronavirus and more on the severe flu season.
“We’re seeing widespread flu activity,” Emerson said. “It looks like we’ve passed our peak, but we are still seeing a number of cases Central Oregon and in the state. So we’re a lot more worried about flu activity.”
Protection against the flu is still important to think about, Emerson says. Washing hands, covering a cough and staying home from work when sick are all ways to help prevent illness.