PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon health officials said Tuesday that a 15th person in the state has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The case is the first one in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county and home to Portland. The patient had no known contact with a person who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus and did not travel from a country where the virus has been circulating, the Oregon Health Authority said.
The patient was hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The new case means people have tested positive for the coronavirus in seven Oregon counties including Jackson, Klamath, Umatilla, Washington, Douglas, Marion and Multnomah.
Those over age 60 and with a serious medical condition — including lung or heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system — are particularly vulnerable to the new virus.
On Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Human Services in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority issued a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at nursing homes.
“Oregonians in our nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to this disease,” Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen said in a statement. “We are working in close partnership with long-term care facilities and asking families, friends, and others who work in and visit these facilities to help us protect the health and safety of our parents, grandparents and other loved ones.”
The policy directs nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities to generally restrict visitation to people considered essential and limit those visitors to two per resident at a time. Staff, vendors and visitors will be screened for respiratory and other symptoms and for recent travel to affected geographic areas, officials said. Community outings also will be limited and officials are urging people to support residents using virtual visiting methods.
“We are trying to avoid tragic situations like the one in Washington,” DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht said of the state where COVID-19 deaths have reached at least 24. Nineteen of those deaths are tied to a Kirkland nursing home.
Health authorities continue to recommend that people wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap, stay home if they feel ill and avoid touching their face with unwashed hands.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown teamed with Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum to produce a short public service announcement telling young people about the best health practices to avoid spreading the coronavirus.