Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
Important message about our case count
March 25, 2020: We know many of you want to know why Washington County has so many more cases of COVID-19 than the rest of the state. We share your concerns about the spread of this virus and are working around the clock to slow it down. We cannot say with absolute certainty why we have more cases. We do NOT have what some have called a “super spreader” or someone who spread the virus to a large number of people. In fact, most – more than two-thirds – of our cases are individual community cases, meaning they aren’t connected to another known ill individual.
We have a working theory as to why our numbers are higher. Washington County had the first case in Oregon, which we learned about on February 28. This means the virus had likely been spreading in our community before detection, so it stands to reason we’d have more cases. Another reason is that we have been vigilant to quickly identify close contacts to known cases, put them under monitoring, and then test at the first sign of illness. This results in more positive tests.
While we think Washington County is pretty special, when it comes to COVID-19, there is nothing special or different about our population in Washington County. Please remember that this virus does not discriminate. Anyone can get sick. Stigmatizing or avoiding certain groups of people is unfair and hurtful.
We know you are hungry for answers and accurate information. Please know how hard we are working to provide that for you through our website, social media accounts and video messages from our board chair. We respond to all media inquiries as thoroughly as possible without compromising patient confidentiality. As public servants, our main priority is to protect the health and safety of all members of our community. We are committed to doing this important work for as long as it takes. Thank you for doing your part by following Governor Kate Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives executive order. We are all in this together.
What is novel coronavirus COVID-19?
Novel coronavirus is a virus strain that has only spread to people since December 2019. Also referred to as COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019), experts are working hard to understand the disease and how it spreads. There is no vaccine or treatment at this time. Most people who get the virus have a mild form of it. It seems to affect older adults more severely.
How is it spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from close contact with an infected person. It spreads mostly from droplets released by coughs and sneezes.
It may be possible to get sick by touching an infected surface then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. We still don't know how long the virus can live on surfaces. This is part of the reason it's so important to wash your hands well and often and keep your hands away from your face.
This virus does not discriminate. Anyone can get it. Stigmatizing or avoiding certain groups of people is unfair and hurtful. It is up to all of us to make sure that everyone feels welcome, supported and safe in our community. Share facts, not fear.
To slow the spread, Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order called Stay Home, Save Lives on March 23, 2020.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
- About 80% of people who have COVID-19 will have mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, like a fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you would otherwise not seek treatment for your symptoms, we ask that you stay home, rest and recover, while monitoring your symptoms.
- If symptoms worsen, call your health care provider or urgent care facility before showing up.
- Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease) are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Visit the CDC's website for more information.
- If able, individuals who need emergency care should tell 911 and the hospital about any known exposure to someone with COVID-19 and travel to any affected areas.
Should I get tested?
Testing guidance can shift as the situation evolves. As of now, these are the current recommendations:
- Those who are sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath and who are at a higher risk for complications from severe respiratory infections (e.g., age 65+, those with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant people) should call their health care provider to discuss whether they should be tested for COVID-19.
- Other people with mild illness who are concerned about their health can call their health care provider to discuss COVID-19 testing and other possible reasons for their illness. Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. We don’t currently have medications to treat COVID-19, so whether you test positive or negative, your health care provider’s advice for managing your symptoms will be the same.
- People without any symptoms do not need to be tested.
- Ultimately, testing for COVID-19 is left to the discretion of your health care provider.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Wash your hands often with warm running water and soap for 20-seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand wash product.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes using your sleeve or a tissue, not your bare hand.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces at home and at work, including your mobile devices.
- Follow all social distancing recommendations.
- If you are over 60 or have an underlying health condition, the current recommendation is that you stay home as much as possible.
- Pregnant women should visit the CDC's website for the most current guidance.
- Breastfeeding women should visit Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine for the most current guidance.
Oregon Health Authority (OHA)
The Oregon Health Authority has the latest data about COVID-19 in Oregon.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC has a vast library of resources and information for prevention, FAQs and resources. You can also sign up for email and social media updates from their website.
World Health Organization (WHO)
Visit this website for a global picture of the outbreak.
Call, text, email or use their 211Info app for general questions about symptoms, prevention and tips for staying healthy.
- Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155
- Text your zip code to 898211 (TXT211)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Multnomah County Health Department
Information on this website has been approved by tricounty health officers and is appropriate for Washington County community members. They have information in multiple languages.
- Sign up for updates at Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Alerts
- HHS Facebook
- Oregon Health Authority @OHAOregon
- CDC @CDCgov
- Washington County @WashCoOregon
- Multnomah County @MultCo
Share your good deeds and creative social distancing ideas
We know that many of you are doing wonderful things to help your friends, family, neighbors and even strangers during this crisis. We also bet you're coming up with creative ways to stay socially connected while maintaining physical distance. We want to share some of these stories and ideas on our Facebook page. Please email your photos and captions to GoodDeeds@co.washington.or.us. All photos must 1) reflect social distancing guidelines and 2) be OK'd by anyone in the photo for public posting. We can't promise to post every submission, but please know that we appreciate your participation!