The Tillamook County Public Health Department confirmed Saturday, March 28, that it was informed of a second positive case of COVID-19 coronavirus in the county.
The person who was diagnosed is a first responder and a north-county resident who was reportedly convalescing at home under quarantine. The second individual was not reported to be a contact of the county's first positive case.
The county’s first COVID-19 case was reported Thursday, March 26. That person is a health care provider between 35 and 54 years old who works at Tillamook County Community Health Centers and is said to be convalescing at home under quarantine.
The Community Health Centers clinic in Tillamook was closed immediately after the case was confirmed and staff were sent home. There are plans to re-open the clinic Monday, March 30, depending upon the results of a public health investigation.
Following the report of the first case, Public Health said its staff moved immediately to contact the person to gather information on others they had come in contact with, and in turn to contact those people about self-quarantine guidelines.
Health Department staff check twice daily with positive-case contacts to ensure they are properly self-isolating.
As of Friday, March 27, nearly 9,000 coronavirus tests have been completed in Oregon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 8,510 returned negative. The CDC reports 12 people have died from the virus in the state and 102 have been hospitalized, with 31 patients on ventilators.
In Tillamook County, 34 negative test results have been received as of Friday.
County officials and medical staff have not said how many test kits are available in the county. Marlene Putman, administrator at Tillamook County Community Health Centers, previously 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 previously 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.
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.
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.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious illness. 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 follow Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s March 23 executive order to stay home to the maximum extent possible.