PORTLAND, OR — Oregon public health officials announced Friday the “first presumptive case” of the new coronavirus in the state, and officials from Lake Oswego School District, where the person works, said students and staff may have been infected.
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said at a news conference Friday afternoon the individual, who lives in Washington County, had not recently traveled overseas and isn’t believed to have been in contact with anyone who did.
“This is a case of community spread,” Allen said. “The concern is real and reasonable. We’ve been expecting this and are prepared for it.”
The person, whose age and gender have not been released, is a member of the staff at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego. It’s unknown how many people the individual had contact with, but health officials said they are rushing to identify and contact them.
The person has been sick since Feb. 19, officials said.
Forest Hills Elementary School, which has 25 teachers and 420 students, will be closed through Wednesday.
“The school will be cleaned deeply,” the district said in a statement sent to the community. “All activities at the school are canceled through Wednesday.”
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The individual is hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, and is in isolation but has not been quarantined, health officials said at the news conference.
Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said a second person has been tested for COVID-19, as the new coronavirus is officially known, but the results have not come back yet. The individual who tested positive for coronavirus and the second individual had not been in contact, Vines said.
Two other people health officials monitored had developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but tested negative for the virus.
“We are taking this very, very seriously,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said at the news conference. She urged Oregonians to continue with their lives but take normal precautions.
Earlier this week, the state announced that 76 people who had traveled to China, the center of the outbreak, were being monitored, along with about 100 others who had some contact with them. Officials have not said if the person believed to have the virus is among those people.
The case is being referred to as “presumptive” until the state receives confirmation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The announcement came hours after health officials briefed legislators, saying there is little risk of Oregonians developing the virus.
You can watch the news conference here.