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Oregon COVID-19 Diagnoses Climb, Transit Agencies Reduce Service

UPDATE (March 28, 7:24 p.m. PT) –  Oregon has 485 known cases of the novel coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon, according to state and local health officials.

The actual number of cases is believed to be higher given the lack of tests available.#160; 

The Oregon Health Authority announced 65 new diagnosed cases across 13 counties Saturday and one additional confirmed death.

Jackson County additionally announced six new cases Saturday afternoon.

The state has 13 known deaths related to the virus.

Oregon’s 13th coronavirus-related death was a 93-year-old man in Yamhill County who had no underlying health conditions, according to OHA.

Lane County announces possible exposures through Eugene church

Saturday afternoon, Lane County Public Health announced a possible point of exposure to the coronavirus in Eugene.

The agency said a person diagnosed with the coronavirus attended the First Christian Church’s Interfaith Prayer Service on March 11. The person was not tested until March 17.

Lane County Public Health is asking people who attended to reach out if they developed symptoms since the possible exposure. Since the 14-day quarantine period has passed, non-symptomatic people who attended the service are not being asked to self-quarantine, the agency said.

Washington eclipses 4,000 cases

Clark County Public Health said Saturday that six more people have tested positive for the coronavirus there.

The total number of confirmed cases in the county is now 82 and six people are known to have died with COVID-19.

Washington had 4,310 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus and 189 related deaths as of Saturday night, according to the Washington Department of Health.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued additional guidelines on funerals and real estate transactions in the state Saturday.

Inslee, in conjunction with the state Department of Licensing, issued guidance to funeral homes and cemeteries saying funerals can only be attended by immediate family members of the person who died.

Attending family members must still maintain social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart.

Inslee also limited in-person interactions during real estate transactions, stating that in-person meetings with customers are prohibited except when necessary to view a property or sign documents.

Real estate open houses are not permitted in Washington. 

Also things like inspections, appraisals and property viewings must be arranged by appointments and limited to no more than two people at a site at one time.

Inslee also clarified that none of his emergency proclamation orders apply to tribal lands, and that tribal governments are making their own decisions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oregonians can pump their own gas, state fire marshal says 

The Office of the State Fire Marshal announced Saturday that Oregonians can pump their own gas, effective immediately.

“During this unprecedented time of state emergency, we need to ensure that critical supply lines for fuels and other basic services remain uninterrupted,” State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said in a statement.

The office is directing gas stations to require an attendant to be on duty to supervise self-service refueling, enforce social distancing policies and prepare and enforce sanitation measures.

The agency said a gas station owner may only offer self-service without an attendant if there are no employees available to work and there are posted safety signs on how to properly operate a fuel pump.

This new regulation is in place until at least April 11 and may be extended.

Transit agencies reducing service

TriMet, the Portland area’s public transportation agency, is reducing its service starting April 5. The changes will affect the agency’s MAX and WES trains as well as most bus lines.

“These changes are temporary as we adapt our service to match the reduced need for transit due to COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement. “This is a painful-but-necessary adjustment that will help us bounce back quickly when this public health crisis passes.”

A full list of service reductions is available on TriMet’s website.

Southwest Washington’s regional transportation agency C-TRAN also announced service reductions. It is reducing its express service starting Monday. 

C-TRAN said the number of daily trips and buses on certain routes will be reduced. One line, Route 177, will be temporarily suspended. 

C-TRAN said Route 190, which serves Oregon Health & Science University hospital, will not be affected.

Oregon launches statewide public awareness campaign

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown launched a statewide public awareness campaign Saturday in partnership with Portland advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, the Oregon Health Authority and other public health partners. 

The “Stay Home, Save Lives” campaign is aimed at directly informing Oregonians about the importance of social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The campaign includes simple, blunt messages like “Don’t accidentally kill someone” on bright yellow posters.

It also includes television ads laying out the potential consequences of not staying home during the coronavirus outbreak.

“If we don’t stay home, we will continue to spread the coronavirus. 1.4% of all Oregonians could die,” one television ad reads.

“We created this campaign with the governor because we don’t want to look back and wish we had done more,” Jason Bagley and Eric Baldwin, executive creative directors at Wieden+Kennedy, said in a statement. “This campaign provides clarity and conviction around what staying at home means — and how we all have a role to play to help our community.” 

<p>An empty TriMet bus 35 makes its way through downtown Portland, Ore., on Friday, March 20, 2020. TriMet is reporting decreased ridership numbers as the region deals with an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.</p>

Bryan M. Vance


An empty TriMet bus 35 makes its way through downtown Portland, Ore., on Friday, March 20, 2020. TriMet is reporting decreased ridership numbers as the region deals with an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.