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Tillamook County Community Health Centers staff members Cassandra Orozco, Amy Lake and Dove Rainbow at the mobile clinic.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tillamook County as of Wednesday, March 18, according to a report from the Tillamook County Community Health Centers.

Community Health is receiving regular updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) on the latest recommendations and guidelines and providing current information on its website and Facebook page.

COVID-19 tests are available in Tillamook County; however, due to high demand and limited supplies for these tests, Community Health is following CDC and OHA assessment guidelines.

“The care team at Tillamook County Community Health Centers is dedicated to staying current on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and will continue to actively monitor the situation,” said Tillamook County Public Health Officer Dr. Melissa Paulissen. “The health and well-being of our patients, staff, and the whole community is of the utmost importance.”

The Community Health report said there has been speculation about individual test results in the community and elsewhere, but to date all tests of Tillamook County residents have been negative. No specifics are being released regarding individual negative test results. If there are positive COVID-19 test results in the future, public health staff will follow OHA guidance when addressing affected individuals.

Through a medical screening process and provider clinical judgement, Community Health will determine who needs a medical appointment that may occur at the mobile clinic. The mobile clinic will be stationed in the parking lot of the Community Health Center clinic, located at 801 Pacific Ave. in Tillamook.

“Our goal is to see patients when it is medically necessary and to limit contact between patients who have chronic health conditions and those that may have an infectious illness, such as the flu or colds,” said Dr. Lisa Steffey, medical director for Community Health Centers.

There is now a COVID-19 information line staffed by registered nurses from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (also available in Spanish). If you have questions about flu-like symptoms or are concerned about COVID-19 warning signs (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), call the information line: 503-842-3940.

Per American Dental Association guidance, dental services will be limited to essential care only. Consequently, non-essential dental procedures will be postponed and rescheduled. If you have urgent needs, please call dental services staff at 503-842-2356.

“We know there is a lot of information about the coronavirus, and we understand it can be frightening to hear how quickly the situation is unfolding,” said Marlene Putman, administrator, Tillamook County Community Health Centers. “Please know that the Tillamook County Community Health Centers remains committed to keeping you and our community safe and healthy.”

Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS), spoke out on the need for stronger social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. OAHHS represents Oregon’s 62 acute care hospitals.

"Hospitals and health systems are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients and it is critical that we have the capacity to care for those patients and others who present at our facilities,” Hultberg said. "Absent widespread testing and the ability to isolate patients, the public health tool we must use to avoid a rising patient surge is social distancing.”

Hultberg said OAHHS supports action on the state or local level to further limit retail commerce, unnecessary travel, and adopt shelter in place strategies.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the CDC awarded $7.2 million to Oregon to support the state’s effort to help contain and fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The funding is in addition to an initial $500,000 that the state received at the beginning of the month.

“As our states tackle the unique challenges of responding to coronavirus, the federal government needs to be a full partner,” Merkley said. “That’s why I am very pleased to announce that the CDC has awarded a much-needed $7.2 million for the efforts Oregon is undertaking to tackle this outbreak.”

The new funding comes from a bipartisan $8.3 billion package of emergency funding signed into law earlier this month. Merkley pushed to secure more funding for the CDC, small business disaster loans, reimbursements for state and local government expenses incurred fighting the coronavirus, and support for tribal governments – all of which are included in the package.

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