Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley on Thursday launched a new resource for Oregonians seeking information about the coronavirus (COVID-19), including the number of cases in Oregon; information on risk of exposure, prevention and treatment; and steps that he has taken to push the federal government to respond effectively, and with urgency.
Merkley created the webpage after hearing concerns from Oregonians at town halls about the spread of the virus, and where they could get reliable information.
“I take the safety of Oregonians and Americans incredibly seriously, which is why I am calling for immediate action from Congress and the White House,” Merkley said in a statement. “In addition to continuing to push from D.C., I’ve also compiled helpful resources and recommendations for Oregonians to help keep our communities safe and healthy as the coronavirus continues to spread. As developments unfold, my team and I will update this page with new information, and I will continue to fight for the funding and urgency this public health issue requires.”
The webpage, https://www.merkley.senate.gov/coronavirus, compiles information from a variety of public health institutions, all in one place. The page also includes a summary of the action Merkley is calling for.
Currently, 76 people in Oregon are being monitored for symptoms after possible exposure to the virus. Since January, the Oregon Health Authority has monitored 254 people for possible exposure to the virus and 178 of them did not develop any symptoms while being monitored.
In a press release announcing the resource, Merkley said he has been at the forefront in pushing for action to combat the spread of the virus.
In January, he joined his Republican colleague Sen. Todd Young of Indiana to urge the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the international coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, which the WHO did the following day.
Merkley noted the shortcomings of President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, which cut the Centers for Disease Control budget in the midst of this global crisis. He has called on the president to reverse those cuts. Merkley also joined Senate colleagues to press the White House’s National Security Council to appoint a senior global health security expert—a position that has been vacant for two years, and is especially relevant now.
Merkley launched the resource after the latest news that a person in California may be the first case of “community spread” in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control found that the person tested positive for the infection, even though they were not exposed to anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus, and had not traveled to countries in which the virus is circulating.