▶️ Tri-County health officials keeping tabs on coronavirus as it reaches US, PNW

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen 11 cases of coronavirus. 

And although none of those cases are in Oregon, the Tri-County health departments are prepared.

“We’re sharing information about what signs and symptoms to look for, what testing we would be doing if someone met the criteria, and then how to keep our health care professionals safe as well,” said Morgan Emerson, preparedness coordinator for Deschutes County Public Health.

Local health departments are looking out for patient symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in California and Washington, but Oregon health professionals say we shouldn’t be impacted by our neighboring states.

“There have been a few cases of person to person transmission in the United States, but right now those numbers are small,” said Dr. Robert Pfister, chief quality and safety officer at St. Charles Health Systems. “By far our biggest risk is people traveling to the United States from an area for which it’s endemic, namely China.”

When it comes to prevention, you might already be putting the right habits into practice.

“I would encourage people to practice the same things they would do to prevent influenza,” Pfister said. “Wash your hands frequently, reduce contact with other folks who are ill, and get your influenza vaccine.”

Deschutes Public Health said while a new disease does come with its share of challenges, this is what they handle on a day to day basis.

“We are always doing contact investigations, and looking at how disease spreads and preventing that,” Emerson said. “So this is really our bread and butter.”

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