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Oregon Caseload Climbs, Health Leaders Urge Face Coverings

<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>

There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

UPDATE (April 4, 7:37 p.m. PT) — Oregon state and local health officials reported 100 new known cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 999.

Two of those new cases are at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, according to the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The department had previously said that new cases at the home had subsided.


“The staff is doing everything in their power to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep our community safe,” Kelly Fitzpatrick, the department’s director, said in a statement. “All possible resources are being made available to support them in their critical work and we continue to do everything possible to protect the honored residents in our care and prevent the further spread or reintroduction of this potentially deadly virus.”

OHA also announced four deaths Saturday. Additionally, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced another death Saturday evening — a resident at the Lebanon veterans home. The home has reported a total of 18 positive cases and three deaths related to COVID-19.

The state now has 27 known deaths from the virus.

Three of the deaths were Multnomah County residents with underlying medical conditions, OHA said. They include a 59-year-old man, a 77-year-old woman and a 64-year-old woman.

The fourth death was a 65-year-old Marion County man who also had underlying medical conditions.

310 people have died with COVID-19 in Washington

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Clark County was 137 as of Friday night and eight people are known to have died from COVID-19, according to public health officials. Clark County Public Health announced six new positive cases Friday and no additional known deaths.

Washington had 7,591 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus and 310 related deaths as of Friday night, according to the Washington Department of Health.

Layoffs continue in Oregon

Timberline Lodge in Government Camp is reducing its staff by 471 people, according to a letter it sent to the state Thursday.

The ski resort cited Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order closing down all non-essential businesses, along with other related orders, as the reason for its sudden downturn of business. 

Other businesses have also sent similar layoff notices to the state in the last week. 

They include Big Al’s, an entertainment venue with a bowling alley and sports bar in Beaverton that is laying off 120 staff members, and the Benihana restaurant in Beaverton, part of an international chain, that said it is laying off 57 employees.

Oregon to send 140 ventilators to New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that New York will receive 1,000 ventilators from China and 140 ventilators from Oregon. 

“It’s going to make a significant difference for us,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo said Thursday that the state would exhaust its amount of ventilators in six days if the number of critically ill patients with coronavirus continued to grow at the same rate. 

“New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help,” Brown tweeted Saturday morning. “Oregon is in a better position right now. We must all do that we can to help those on the front lines of this response.”

"Oregon doesn't have everything we need to fight COVID-19 — we need more PPE and testing — but we can help today with ventilators. We are all in this together," she tweeted.

Oregon received 140 ventilators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the end of March.

Portland police expect surge in child abuse reports post-crisis

The Portland Police Bureau's child abuse team has seen its caseload plummet. Before March 19, Sgt. Davis Kile said the city averaged between 40 and 50 reports of child abuse each day. He said that number is down to about 10 a day. 

Kile said many of the team’s cases get referred to them through the Child Abuse Hotline, often by teachers, child care workers and counselors. With schools closed and people confined to their homes, children at risk are no longer being monitored by these professionals, many of whom are designated mandatory reporters.

“We believe child abuse is still taking place,” Kile said, noting his unit anticipates a surge of cases after the state of emergency ends. PPB spokesperson Tina Jones noted a similar phenomenon occurs when school starts back up after a holiday or summer vacation.

Oregon, Washington health officials support face coverings

“I think there’s a real sense of urgency to do everything we can to prevent spread," Dr. Jennifer Vines, tri-county health officer, said Friday.

Vines repeated that all the earlier recommendations still apply, such as washing hands frequently. Clackamas County health officer Dr. Sarah Present emphasized that wearing a face covering doesn't mean people should relax their social distancing practices. The officials said people should stay home except for essential trips and people who are sick should avoid going out at all. The facial covering is an additional safeguard, the health officials said. 

"This additional recommendation that we think offers some benefit, again for containing droplets, and potentially for those people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms,” Vines said.

The Oregon officials don't want people seeking out N-95 respirators or surgical masks, saying those should be reserved for health workers.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

Correction: Oregon received ventilators from FEMA at the end of March. An earlier version of this story reported an incorrect date.


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.