MALHEUR COUNTY — With several confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Oregon, the Malheur County Health Department has been working to field residents’ questions about the disease and ensure that they themselves have the latest answers. In their efforts to keep the community up to date, the Department issued a letter to community organizations on March 5.

In its letter, the Department reminds the community to take common-sense steps to keep Coronavirus and other diseases from spreading, and reminds members of the public to call their doctor if they feel sick, and not just rely on running their symptoms by the Department over the phone.

While the Department says no specific treatment is yet available, in the unlikely event the disease makes it here that they aim to help anyone who gets infected to heal themselves.

They remind the public to continue monitoring the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 page for updates, and that a spike in confirmed cases is possible as testing for the virus increases.

Following is the full letter the Department has issued.

Community Partners,

With increased fear and misconceptions, it is important to keep up to date with the facts about the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon. Currently, there are three positive cases in Oregon and none for Malheur County. The best way to know if there has been a new confirmed case is to check the Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 page, where they keep track in real time the number of confirmed cases, those pending, negative, monitored, and more. Bookmark the page and refer to it often: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus 

We may see a spike of confirmed cases across the country as testing increases. The most important steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold can also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Avoid contact with sick people and stay home if you’re sick.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

• Get your flu shot. Available at the Malheur County Health Department. Call 541-889-7279 for an appointment.

If you feel like you need to see a doctor, call your health-care provider first to discuss whether or not you need to be seen. If you need urgent medical attention, call 911. The provider will ensure they have protective measures in place. If a healthcare provider thinks you may have COVID-19, he or she will first determine if you are well enough to stay home or if you need to go to a clinic or hospital. Your health-care provider may ask you to put on a mask to limit spread of the virus and make sure you are not around other people. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

If you call the Malheur County Health Department to ask if a person should be tested, we will instruct you to call your health-care provider and cannot evaluate symptoms or severity over the phone and do not operate a primary care clinic. If a person meets criteria for COVID-19 testing, providers will work with the health department and the Oregon State Public Health Lab.

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. The goal is to support the person who is ill, supply oxygen if needed, and help lessen the symptoms until the immune system kicks in and kills the virus. Most people with COVID-19 appear to have mild disease that doesn’t require a medical visit.

As with flu, most people can recover at home without problems. Those with fever and cough who have significant trouble breathing, or feel faint, or parents of a child who gets bluish color of the skin around the mouth should call promptly and arrange for medical evaluation or call 911.

It’s important to not stigmatize anyone you think might have COVID-19. There is no way to look at someone who has flu-like symptoms and know they have COVID-19.  

COVID-19 is spread when people touch or breathe in droplets made when ill people cough, sneeze or talk. This can happen when someone is close to a sick person, within six feet.

Rarely, people might catch COVID-19 by touching a surface that a person with the infection coughed or sneezed on, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. Coronaviruses can’t survive for long on surfaces, though, so this isn’t common.

The Oregon Health Authority has created an extremely helpful COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page. More questions are being answered and the page is updated regularly.

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