PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has its first presumed case of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The person believed to be infected lives in Washington County and is an employee at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego, according to Oregon Health Authority.
An email to the community from Lake Oswego Superintendent Lorna de la Cruz said that the person is in a role at Forest Hills Elementary that does not typically come in contact with students.
"At this point it appears that this person likely only had close contact with a few individuals; they will be asked to stay home from work or school for two weeks," de la Cruz said.
A separate email sent from the district said Forest Hills Elementary School will be closed through Wednesday, March 4. De la Cruz said the decision to close the school was made out of an abundance of caution. The school will be deep cleaned during the closure.
All activities at district schools are canceled this weekend. It's expected all schools in the district, except for Forest Hills, will be open on Monday.
Authorities are working to identify people who were in close contact with the person and may have been exposed. The employee was last at the school on Feb. 19.
Contact tracing is a top priority, according to Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen. Anyone who was exposed will be notified by health officials.
“Our first concern is for this individual, to make sure they’re being cared for and is able to recover,” Allen said. “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 that has proved to be true.”
The school district is looking at absent trends at Forest Hills Elementary but would not comment on if there has been an increase in absences since Feb. 19.
It's not known how the person got coronavirus. There is no known travel exposure and it appears to be a case of community spread, officials said.
The person tested positive for coronavirus Friday afternoon at a public health laboratory in Hillsboro. A confirmation test will be done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until that confirmation test is done, the case will be categorized as presumptive. Results of the confirmation test could be known as early as this weekend.
The person is being treated in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Westside Hospital in Hillsboro. Some Forest Hills Elementary School employees visited their coworker at the hospital. They've been asked to stay at home and seek medical advice, de la Cruz said.
Gov. Kate Brown said the state is taking this first presumptive coronavirus case seriously. She said people should still stay calm and go about their daily lives.
OHA officials continue to recommend people take precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
- Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
- Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.
If you think you have symptoms of the coronavirus, which include coughing, shortness of breath and a fever, you should stay home and call your health care provider for instruction on what to do next.
Earlier on Friday, Gov. Brown announced the formation of a statewide coronavirus response team. The team is tasked with coordinating both state and local health agencies as they prepare for the coronavirus. She said the team was formed before the state learned of the positive test in Hillsboro.
As of Feb. 25, Oregon was monitoring 76 people who had traveled to China. Counties were monitoring 178 people.
There have been more than 60 cases of coronavirus in the United States. The virus is most dangerous for older people and those with underlying conditions.