SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown convened Friday a Coronavirus Response Team tasked with coordinating state and local agencies and health authorities in preparation for response to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The team will build on the work of the Oregon Health Authority’s coronavirus incident management team to prepare Oregon to respond to any potential outbreaks of the disease.
“Let me be clear: As of today there are zero confirmed cases of coronavirus in Oregon, and the risk to Oregonians of contracting the coronavirus remains low," Brown said.
“However, in an escalating global health crisis, we must make sure we are as ready and informed as we can be. The purpose of the Coronavirus Response Team is to ensure we are taking every precaution necessary, in coordination with local health authorities, hospitals, community health partners, and school districts, to make sure that Oregon is fully prepared to respond to any outbreaks of the coronavirus and that Oregonians know how they can keep their families safe.”
The Coronavirus Response Team will meet regularly to coordinate coronavirus response and preparation, to update the Governor as the international situation develops, and make recommendations to the Governor to safeguard public health.
Since the first reported cases of COVID-19 overseas, state agencies have taken a number of actions to prepare in Oregon:
- State agencies are reviewing readiness plans to ensure state government is able to maintain a continuity of operations and services in the event that coronavirus impacts agency operations.
- State, county, and tribal health officials are monitoring people who may have come into contact with the disease or traveled to mainland China for symptoms like coughing or fever during the two weeks after they return, providing health education, and are prepared to link people with appropriate health care if symptoms develop.
- Starting this week, OHA is providing weekly public updates about how many people are being monitored in Oregon, as well as sharing updates about how Oregon families can help prevent the spread of coronavirus on OHA’s COVID-19 website.
- Oregon hospitals and health providers have scaled up their preparedness efforts, and OHA is conducting ongoing outreach to health facilities to support training and preparedness, as well as monitoring health care availability and needs.
“Oregon has proven its resiliency in preparing for and responding to Ebola, H1N1 influenza, Zika, and other global public health threats,” said OHA Director Pat Allen. “Each time, Oregon’s public health and health care systems and their partners have found ways to strengthen our collective response. If the coronavirus comes to Oregon, we will be ready.”
Public awareness is key to preventing the spread of coronavirus. Just as with flu season, containing coronavirus starts with everyone –– at home, in the workplace, and at school –– practicing good hygiene through regular handwashing, proper covering of coughs and sneezes, routine cleaning of workspaces, kitchens, and bathrooms, and staying home when sick or symptomatic.
Tips for preventing the spread of the coronavirus include:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces people often touch.
- Consult travel advisories if you plan to travel outside of the U.S.
- Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
As with earthquakes and other natural disasters, it’s important for all Oregonian families to be 2 Weeks Ready, with an ample supply of food, water, prescription medications, pet food, sanitation supplies, and anything else they would need to shelter in place for an extended period of time if it becomes necessary.
The Coronavirus Response Team includes agency directors or their representatives from:
- Department of Administrative Services
- Oregon Health Authority
- Department of Human Services
- Oregon State Police
- Oregon Department of Transportation
- Office of Emergency Management
- Oregon Military Department
- Oregon Department of Education
- Department of Corrections
- Oregon Youth Authority
- Secretary of State
- Oregon State Treasurer
Today at 2:00 pm, OHA Director Pat Allen will hold a media availability to provide more information about Oregon's efforts to prepare for the coronavirus.
General questions and concerns regarding the coronavirus and the state’s response can be directed to the state’s helpline by dialing 211. For more information and to check for updated information about the coronavirus, please visit the websites for OHA or the Centers for Disease Control.