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Gov. Kate Brown Requests Federal Aid In Wake Of Oregon Coronavirus Cases

<p>Gov. Kate Brown attends a press conference on Feb. 28, 2020 to discuss Oregon's first confirmed case of novel coronavirus.</p>

Gov. Kate Brown attends a press conference on Feb. 28, 2020 to discuss Oregon's first confirmed case of novel coronavirus.

In a letter to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has asked for federal assistance toward stopping the community spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.

Willamette Week first reported that Gov. Kate Brown sent the letter to address the state’s “efforts to prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus in Oregon, as requested.”

“[W]e are concerned that we do not have a sufficient supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should the coronavirus spread more widely,” the letter reads.

Brown has requested 400,000 respirators, 75 to 100 ventilators, hazmat suits, gowns, gloves and ambulance protection systems. As of Tuesday, Oregon has the capacity to process 80 test kits per day, with 1,500 lab kits stocked and ready to process. Brown did not request any additional kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In her letter, Brown also requested leniency regarding federal testing criteria.

“We would like to request flexibility on the testing criteria for COVID-19, covered under the emergency use authorization, to better assess the burden of the disease in Oregon resulting from community spread within the state.”

It seems that request is already underway, as The New York Times reports that all federal limits will be lifted according to Pence. But he said that new guidelines will be released to fast-track testing for people who fear they’ve contracted the disease.

“Today we will issue new guidance from the C.D.C. that will make it clear that any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders,” Mr. Pence told reporters at the White House.

Brown announced the first case of novel coronavirus in the state last Friday. 

As of March 3, there are still two presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus in Oregon according to the Oregon Health Authority. One presumptive case was confirmed by the CDC Tuesday evening. There have been no new cases announced as of Tuesday evening. 115 people are still under monitoring, and 18 patients await results.

Washington state has reported a ninth death from coronavirus — all COVID-19 deaths in the United States so far have been in the Seattle area.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Donald Orr is a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He was a news production assistant for OPB through the Emerging Northwest Journalists Internship created by AAJA-Portland and the Society for Professional Journalists Oregon. He is an alum of NPR’s Next Generation Radio.