Good Shepherd

Umatilla County’s third COVID-19 patient to die of the virus died at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Umatilla County Public Health announced Monday that three new cases of COVID-19 were identified, bringing Umatilla County’s total since the beginning of the outbreak to eight.

According to a press release, one of the people diagnosed with the coronavirus was in close contact with one of the two cases in Morrow County, while the other two Umatilla County patients have no connection to each other or any of the other previous cases.

All three of the new COVID-19 cases are self-isolating and recovering at home.

As with previous cases, Umatilla County is declining to release the patient’s city of residence, their age ranges or any other demographic information. However, in a news release announcing the county’s fifth case last week, the county noted that “each of the cases has been in a different town so no population center is really exempt and there is no area of Umatilla County where it isn’t important to follow the guidelines.” The fact that the two newest cases were picked up from an unknown origin also supports public health experts’ assertion that the outbreak is more widespread than official testing numbers show.

Joe Fiumara, the department’s director, said last week that the county’s more recent cases have had a shorter list of people to notify of possible exposure, suggesting that many people in the county are following social distancing guidelines.

According to the health department, 268 tests total have been conducted in Umatilla County.

The public health department stated in its news release that the state is “still in the middle of a severe cold and flu season” and as such, not everyone with respiratory symptoms needs to be tested.

Patients can be tested at the discretion of their health care provider after other illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia, have been ruled out, but they may also be told to just rest at home and isolate themselves if their symptoms are mild.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, should call their primary care provider before visiting a clinic so that staff can prepare to receive them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines last week encouraging everyone to wear a mask in public. Official medical masks such as N95 masks should generally be reserved for health care providers, but homemade cloth masks and makeshift items like bandanas can help prevent people — particularly those with no symptoms who don’t realize they are contagious — from spreading the virus into the air when they talk or cough.

Governor Kate Brown encouraged Oregonians to follow CDC guidelines in a recent statement.

“Like every other strategy we have used to address this crisis, wearing homemade masks will only be effective if we all work together,” she said.

“Continue to stay home to the maximum extent possible, and add wearing a homemade mask to the list of precautions you are practicing when you go out in public. Make sure you are still abiding by all the social distancing measures we have in place. And, please only wear homemade masks, not medical masks that are desperately needed by our frontline health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.”

According to the Oregon Health Authority, the state has had a total of 1,181 known cases and 33 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. So far 23,007 people have been tested statewide.

Of the reported cases in Oregon, at least 329 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, while 756 are not and the hospitalization status of 96 cases are unknown to the state. Sixty-nine COVID-19 patients are on a ventilator, and the state currently has 816 ventilators available, according to OHA.

According to a tally kept by the New York Times of each state’s reported cases, the United States had at least 395,090 confirmed cases since Jan. 21 as of Tuesday afternoon, with at least 12,786 deaths.

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