Oregon announces first, presumptive case of novel coronavirus

Health officials continue investigating as they urge good hand hygiene, covering coughs, staying home if sick
PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon Health Authority has confirmed its first, presumptive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in an Oregon resident, public health officials announced today.
The case, a resident of Washington County, experienced symptoms of COVID-19 beginning Feb. 19 and a sample was collected from the individual today. The sample was sent to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory in Hillsboro, which used a new COVID-19 test kit it received Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lab began tested the sample today—only hours after it verified the new CDC test kit.

“Our first concern is for this individual, to make sure they’re being cared for and is able to recover,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “Our next priority is finding out who this individual had contact with and make sure they know about their risks, and to let them know how they can get care if they need it. We said this was a fast-moving situation, and we’ve proved that to be true.”

The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case—the two most common sources of exposure. As such, public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown.

The individual has been isolated and is being cared for at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro.

The individual is employed at a school in Clackamas County and may have exposed students and staff there. The school district is planning to close the school to allow public health officials to complete their investigation, including contacting employees there and family of children to inform them of their exposure and let them know next steps.

OHA epidemiologists are working closely with public health investigators at Washington County Department of Health and Human Services to identify close contacts of the case.

“We are awaiting confirmation of the test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but at this time we are considering this a presumptive case,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, MSed. “The person in now appropriate isolation and appropriate care.”