Community transmission of COVID-19 has been documented in Douglas County. Accurate information is very important. Douglas Public Health Network officials have compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Douglas County Health officials have established a hotline (541) 464-6550 for people with questions. The call center will be staffed with health care professionals who can answer questions from the public. Call center hours will be 8am-8pm seven days per week until further notice.
If I am sick, what do I do?
If you are feeling reasonably well, you might not need to visit a clinic or hospital, which allows providers to focus on patients who most need care. If you are very ill or having trouble breathing, call your healthcare provider and only call 911 if it is an actual emergency.
How many cases have been confirmed in Douglas County?
We have one Douglas County resident test positive at the Oregon Public Health Lab. That case is being classified as “presumptive” until we receive confirmation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We do not anticipate there too be many discrepancies in results, so thus we are treating presumptive cases the same as confirmed cases.
How many people in Douglas County have been tested?
This is a rapidly changing situation. The numbers change daily. The Oregon State Public Health Lab has been processing about 80 tests (~40 people) per day. Douglas County has a small population, but we have had our proportionate share of that testing. Check the OHA website for the latest information.
When will COVID-19 tests be available in Douglas County?
At this time, you can only get a COVID-19 test through your healthcare provider. Tests are currently being processed at the Oregon State Public Health Lab and a growing number of commercial labs, like Quest and LabCorp. There is not yet an established timeline for receiving test results. There are very few outpatient clinics in Douglas County offering testing at this time. Community health partners are working very hard to make testing available to a wider number of people.
If someone has a cough and a fever, and/or difficulty breathing, where can they go to be tested for COVID19?
Most people with cough, fever and mild illness can recover at home and do not need to seek medical care. If you are feeling reasonably well, you might not need to visit a clinic or hospital, which allows providers to focus on patients who most need care. If you are very ill or having trouble breathing, call your healthcare provider and only call 911 if it is an actual emergency.
How can seniors receive services if they are being told to stay home?
Community partners are working together to determine ways to reach our most vulnerable community members.
What are the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus?
The disease progression of COVID-19 ranges from person to person. Symptoms of COVID-19 are non-specific and the disease presentation can range from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe pneumonia and death. People with COVID-19 generally develop signs and symptoms on an average of 5-6 days after infection (mean incubation period 5-6 days, range 1-14 days).
According to the World Health Organization, “As of 20 February 2020 and based on 55924 laboratory confirmed cases, typical signs and symptoms include: fever (87.9%), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), sputum production (33.4%), shortness of breath (18.6%), sore throat (13.9%), headache (13.6%), myalgia or arthralgia (14.8%), chills (11.4%), nausea or vomiting (5.0%), nasal congestion (4.8%), diarrhea (3.7%), and hemoptysis (0.9%), and conjunctival congestion (0.8%).”
How does COVID-19 spread?
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.
What is my risk of getting COVID-19?
Your risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 depends on your exposure to the virus. We recommend taking the steps listed below to decrease your risk of infection.
What is the best advice to lower my chance of contracting COVID-19?
Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
Stock up on supplies.
Avoid crowds as much as possible.
Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
Who is most at risk?
See this page with recommendations for people at risk of serious illness from COVID19:
Is there a preferred public information platform? How will the public be kept informed?
Public Health Officer for Douglas County, Dr. Robert Dannenhoffer, will provide updates in daily press releases through FlashAlert, through the Douglas Public Health Network Twitter and Facebook pages, and at douglaspublichealthnetwork.org.
Also, Douglas County Health officials have established a hotline (541) 464-6550 for people with questions. The call center will be staffed with health care professionals who can answer questions from the public. Call center hours will be 8am-8pm seven days per week until further notice.
Why aren’t we releasing details about cases?
With community spread, we need to remember the disease is in all parts of the county and the advice of social distancing, hand washing and the like would not change even if we knew everything about the patient. Since it would not change what we would do, we believe in protecting the patient’s privacy. If there is an exposure in a public setting, we would only release information that is necessary to reduce the threat or protect the public health. Close contacts of confirmed cases would be notified by public health.
Why isn’t more information available about the person who is considered presumptive positive?
We and our collaborative partners have been working hard for weeks preparing for COVID-19. These partners include the Douglas County Emergency Manager, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, local hospitals, healthcare workers, emergency medical services, the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management. It was through this collaboration that we were able to quickly identify and isolate this case with very few people exposed. We communicated the positive results to the public within hours of receiving them. We have interviewed the patient and are actively following up with all of their close contacts.
We protect the privacy of all patients. As this was a case of community spread, knowing the exact location and identity of the person would not be helpful and could compromise their confidentiality.
You may have heard of other counties releasing more information about their cases, as an example: the Umatilla case that attended a youth basketball game. With our case, there were no such public events or locations that are at risk. With future cases, if we believe unknown members of the public may have been exposed, we will release that information.
We recommend to stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, avoid the hospital emergency department (except in emergencies) and at your discretion, avoid large gatherings.
Should people who can stay home and work from home do so at this time?
Recommendations from the state is that employers who are able to have workers work from home should allow that at this time. The reason for this would be to increase social distancing measures.
If you are immunocompromised, the recommendations are to increase social distancing and to decrease the amount of people that you are in contact with. If you are able to stay at home, the recommendation would be for you to do so.
I am over the age of 50 or I have health issues, should I go to work?
People at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19 include older adults, and persons with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. To determine your level of risk, you should talk to your medical provider. Depending on your level of risk and your type of work, you may want to discuss the possibility of working from home, working a shift with less people, or other accommodations with your employer. Staying at home will reduce your risk of being exposed. The Centers for Disease Control, Oregon Health Authority and Douglas Public Health Network have not released any large scale work restrictions or quarantine at this time.
What is the mortality rate for young children with COVID-19?
We understand that the parents of small children may be especially concerned about COVID-19. At this time, we have limited data regarding their clinical outcomes. Children seem to have more mild illness, if they show any signs at all. Severe complications have been reported, but they appear to be uncommon. Those under the age of 10 have made up less than 1% of the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China. Mortality rates depend on a lot of factors including the person’s age, chronic conditions, smoking status and overall health status as well as the level of medical care they receive. The overall case fatality rate for COVID-19 looks to be about 2%, but for individuals age 80 and older that rises to 15%.
Other than hand washing and surface sanitizing, are there other recommended precautions I can take to help prevent my family from contracting COVID-19?
To protect yourself and your family we recommend:
1. Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
2. Cover your mouth with a tissue, sleeve, or elbow (not hands) when you cough or sneeze.
3. Stay home if you are sick.
4. Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, staying current on your vaccinations including the flu vaccine, getting enough sleep and regular exercise, and by taking care of underlying health conditions.
Should we all be wearing masks?
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. Health care workers who are appropriately fit-tested for facemasks will wear them to care for people infected with COVID-19. There is little evidence that masks limit exposure or decrease risk of illness when used in the public setting. They might lead to a false sense of security and make people less likely to take other, more effective measures to decrease risk of infection.
What are Douglas County’s plans for handling COVID-19
Douglas Public Health Network has been busy working with our healthcare coalition to coordinate and prepare for COVID-19. Our partnerships include EMS, Fire, Mercy Medical Center and Lower Umpqua Hospital, the Cow Creek Tribe, the VA, Douglas County commissioners, and local city governments. We are also having weekly calls with smaller clinics and urgent cares, the school districts, home hospice, senior services and others. We are following guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and Centers for Disease Control.
Is it safe to open packages from China or other foreign countries?
The virus does not last long on objects such as letters or packages, according to the World Health Organization.