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Health officials confirmed Thursday, March 26, the first presumptive case of COVID-19 coronavirus in Tillamook County.

The individual is a health care provider between 35 and 54 years of age. As of Thursday, the provider is reportedly convalescing at home under quarantine. She is employed by the county and works at the Tillamook County Community Health Centers.

“Like all health care staff, this provider and other health center staff have been using recommended precautions and personal protective equipment to limit exposure and transmission," said Lisa Steffey, Community Health Centers. "Consequently, we expect to have limited the transmission to other staff or patients.”

The Community Health Centers clinic in Tillamook was closed immediately and staff were sent home.

“Staff have been instructed to stay at home, self-monitor for symptoms, and take all recommended precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” said Health Officer Melissa Paulissen, M.D. 

The Tillamook clinic will be closed for the rest of week and through the weekend for deep cleaning per CDC guidelines. There are plans to re-open the clinic Monday, March 30, depending upon the results of a public health investigation.

“Since telemedicine has been implemented at the Health Center, it is not necessary for patients to be physically present for an appointment," Steffey said.

It was previously reported that county officials and medical staff could not say how many test kits are available in the county because each health facility has its own supply. Marlene Putman, administrator, Tillamook County Community Health Centers said the local turnaround time for COVID-19 tests is approximately 48 hours, but that timeline has been widely questioned by the public.

Adventist Health Tillamook declined to comment on specifics regarding coronavirus pandemic preparation for Tillamook County residents.

Cherie Plaisted, marketing and communication manager, said Adventist Health Tillamook is working with the local health department on testing patients, has enough supplies on hand to care for COVID-19 patients, and is part of a hospital system with access to additional supplies, beds and expertise should they need it.

Plaisted would not say how many COVID-19 tests have been conducted at Adventist Health Tillamook or how many test kits are available. She also declined to answer regarding the number of intensive care beds that are available at the hospital and how many ventilators are in stock.

“We have highly trained infection prevention practitioners who closely follow the guidelines of the CDC and the local public health department. Our hospitals manage infectious diseases on a regular basis and maintain isolation rooms,” Plaisted said. “Ongoing training and drills are underway on the proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, as well as on the protocols for the identification, testing and treatment of a patient with COVID-19-like symptoms.”

Health industry experts at QuoteWizard recently analyzed Kaiser Family Foundation data on hospital beds. The study found Oregon has an average of 1.66 hospital beds and 2.88 certified physicians per 1,000 people, ranking eighth-worst hospital capacity in the nation.

Oregon was also found to be the number-one worst ranked for hospital beds. From 2014 to 2018, hospital beds in the state decreased by 5.88 percent, according to the study.

According to the CDC's online database, 28 residents of Tillamook County have tested negative for coronavirus as of Thursday.

Testing delays are a growing concern nationwide. The Oregonian reports some people are waiting a week or more to obtain their coronavirus test results. Some private labs that have become inundated and unable to handle a deluge of tests amid a global pandemic.

As of this week, nearly 4,600 Oregonians and 345,000 Americans had received coronavirus results. Countless others cannot yet be screened. The United States lacks enough tests to go around, suppressing the real tally and making it easier for the virus to spread from people with mild symptoms who do not know they’re infected.

Delays in confirming lab results leave people with the virus at risk of exposing family members if they don’t take precautions in shared households as they await diagnosis. At the same time, those delays leave people who aren’t actually infected facing unnecessarily long quarantines, unable to shop for groceries, see family or go outside.

The Tillamook County Public Health Department said it is working to identify and notify all known contacts of the individual through its established case investigation process. Those identified as contacts will be placed under monitoring and informed of any requirements for testing, self-isolation and medical care that may apply.

COVID-19 is a highly infectious illness that spreads like the flu. Local and state health officials continue to urge all Oregonians to take steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. 

Those considered high risk include adults 60 and older, or anyone with a serious health condition, including lung or heart problems, kidney disease, or diabetes, or anyone who has a suppressed immune system.

To help control the spread of the illness the public is urged to stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings.

The Community Health Centers mobile clinic on Pacific Avenue will remain open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. this week. For information about cold and flu-like symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms, patients and public can call the COVID-19 line at: 503-842-3940.

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 10, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported Thursday. OHA also reported 57 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 266.

Oregon’s ninth COVID-19 death is an 80-year-old woman in Clackamas County, who tested positive on Monday, March 23, and died Tuesday at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center. She had underlying medical conditions.

Oregon’s tenth COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old woman in Marion County, who tested positive on Sunday, March 22, and died Monday at Salem Hospital. She had underlying medical conditions

Every resident should take these basic steps to protect those most at risk:

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Stay home if you feel ill.

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(3) comments

DaisyDog

Thank you for this well-written and informative article. It is sad, however, to see how both the hospital and County Health officials seem more interested in dodging questions than telling us how poorly equipped our county really seems to be in the face of this pandemic. That is, anytime officials dodge questions, the public must assume the worst.

MarieHanson

It would be helpful iTunes why Adventist doesn’t want to share information about their resources. It is also helpful to add “Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze” with into your elbow or shoulder. People coughing and sneezing into their hands, then touching things, will spread this and other viruses. Thank you.

Deathmerchant

There are 4 ICU beds at Adventist health Tillamook

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