COVID -19

Update 9:37 p.m. March 12, 2020: The Perrydale School Board has voted to close school until March 30. 

PERRYDALE -- Superintendent Eric Milburn announced Thursday night that the Perrydale School District will close school until after spring break. 

"Perrydale School Board and Administration are dedicated to the health safety and education of all our students, family and community," said Trina Comerford, the board chairwoman said in an announcement issued Thursday night. "We understand the hardships this difficult decision may cause some of our Perrydale families.  The Board made this decision with public safety for all as a top priority.  It is our wishes that the services for our students continue to be met and so we have asked administration to see to those needs during this closure."

The statement said the district will continue to monitor the situation, with guidance from state and local health officials. 

Perrydale will offer food service, breakfast and lunch, for pickup or delivery for the week of March 16-19. 

UPDATE 4:58 p.m. March 12, 202

0:Perrydale School will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. to discuss COVID-19. 

The district posted on Facebook Wednesday night that it will follow the order issued by Gov. Kate Brown and follow advice of health officials.

"Schools are to remain open but all non-essential school-associated gatherings and group activities should be canceled — such as group parent meetings, field trips, and competitions," the post read. "These new measures are based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon public health experts, epidemiologists, and health professionals."

The school announced earlier today that it will hold the emergency board meeting at 5 p.m.

UPDATE 4:51 p.m. March 12, 2020:Polk County departments working on long-term plans to keep operations open.

POLK COUNTY – Operations at Polk County departments are status quo, for now, said Polk County Administrator Greg Hansen.

“We have begun to have internal meetings with (Polk County) Emergency Management, (Polk County Commissioner) Lyle (Mordhorst), HR and management staff to try to figure out the progression and how we are going to address things as they come to be.”

Hansen said two of the three county commissioners were unavailable Thursday, but could meet on Monday if board decisions are necessary.

“We’re watching the state. We’re watching the school districts,” Hansen said. “We’re watching those that may or may not affect us. We have a lot of school-based counselors in schools, so the direction they go determines some of the ways we go. We’re interconnected.”

He said the county officials will discuss all options for staffing and public access to departments.

“We are gearing up knowing it’s not an overnight thing,” he said. “It’s going to be around for a while.”

He said county leaders will remain flexible in responses as the situation evolves. He said the county already has a work from home policy, but not everyone’s job allows for that.

“I think our departments will be given the task of figuring out how they can continue to operate with keeping the safety of the employees in mind and service to public in mind,” Hansen said. “That’s the goal in mind.”

UPDATE 3:34 p.m. March 12, 2020:The Oregon Health Authority added three new cases to its count of people diagnosed with COVID-19. The state's total is now 24.

Clackamas County now has its first case, a man between the ages of 35 and 54 who was a close contact with a previous case. The new Washington County cases are both women older than 55 who had no known close contacts with confirmed cases and are considered community-spread cases.

Washington County now has a total of 10 cases.

UPDATE 3:24 p.m. March 12, 2020:City of Dallas outlines coronavirus response. 

DALLAS – The city of Dallas released a statement about it plans for contending with the possible spread of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon.

City Manager Brian Latta said the focus will be on continuing service to the public with the least disruption possible, especially emergency services.

“We started planning as soon as we first heard of the virus spreading into our country, and we are continuing to monitor and adjust as necessary,” Latta said in a statement. “We have plans in place, in the event of local confirmed cases.”

Latta said the city has reminded employees of precautions, such as hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home while sick.

 “The presence of this new virus just accentuates the importance of close adherence to good hygiene practices,” Latta said. He said the city has regular communication with other government agencies and health care providers, including: Polk County Public Health, Polk County Emergency Management, Salem Health - West Valley Hospital, Oregon Health Authority, and Polk County Fire District #1.

 “Our city management team has had preliminary conversations about being prepared and our public safety departments are having ongoing communications on the topic,” Latta said. “These discussions are aimed at providing the latest information and strategy for treatment and containment of COVID-19 virus as well as regional solutions to a decrease in available personnel.”

 Emergency responders will follow state and local health authority protocols regarding patient contact. Maintenance crews will increase the amount of cleaning and sanitizing for public spaces at city hall and provide more hand sanitizing stations for employees and citizens.  

 The Dallas Public Library has canceled all adults event until further notice and the Dallas Aquatic Center will remain open, but entry will be limited to 200 people at a time.

 Latta said the city has contingency plans to continue to provide service to citizens if some employees are temporarily unavailable.

 “Operationally, we need to plan to ensure we can continue to provide service to our communities. We have assessed the potential of temporarily losing significant portions of our staff due to potential illness or even precautionary quarantines due to potential exposures,” Latta said. “We have contingency plans in place to continue 24-hour emergency services.  Our focus is to be especially mindful of the potential for spread of the virus and prioritizing our services while continuing our mission of providing services to our community and doing so safely.”

 For more information, the city has created a webpage on its website to share the latest information from the Oregon Health Authority, and about the status of City services. Here’s the link: https://www.dallasor.gov/907/Novel-Coronavirus-Information-and-Respon.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m. March 12, 2020:Falls City Schools report no cases of coronavirus as of Thursday morning and schools remain open.

Falls City Schools Superintendent Art Houghtaling posted an update Thursday morning about the district's response to the coronavirus.

"We understand that this news is worrisome to everyone and that extra attention is going to be paid to schools all over the state. We want you to know that we truly do believe that Mountaineers Matter Every Day and always want to keep our children and families as safe as possible," Houghtaling said.  "If there is a report of ANY infectious disease which may be connected to students or staff of the Falls City School District, the District will contact the appropriate agencies for guidance. At this time there are no reports of any students or staff members having any infectious disease including COVID-19."

Houghtaling said schools will remain open at this time.

"However, we are following neighboring districts in taking the measures of limiting non-essential school based activities for at least the next 30 days," Houghtaling said. "We are suspending all non-essential school-based activities beginning Thursday, March 12. We are following new state guidance denying audience admission at all school-based events, with the exception of essential personnel and credentialed media. We will keep you informed regarding affected activities over the coming days. We will update you as we make those decisions." 

UPDATE 7:18 p.m. March 11, 2020: The Oregon Health Authority announced two new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday night, bringing the total to 21 in eight Oregon counties.

The new cases are in Linn County and  involve two males over the age of 80.

Like the cases in Polk, Marion and Deschutes, the Linn County cases had no known close contacts with confirmed cases, so they are considered community-spread.

POLK COUNTY — Public health officials in Polk County and with the Oregon Health Authority are investigating any contacts a person in Polk County with a presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19 may have had.

The Oregon Health Authority announced four new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, including one in Polk County.

Kristty Polanco, the public health administrator with Polk County Public Health, said no further information about the case will be released at this time as officials focus on the investigation.

“We understand that there is concern in the community, especially now that we have a case in the county,” Polanco said. We’re working diligently on identifying any exposures, so they will hear from us directly if that is the case.”

She said the case is called presumptive at this time because the result of the patient’s test is positive from the Oregon State Public Health lab. The sample will be tested by the Centers of Disease Control for confirmation. The case will be treated as positive while confirmation is pending, Polanco said.

“We feel for the family and we are with the family. We are doing the best that we can to protect their privacy, but at the same time we are working diligently to protect the Polk County community at large,” she said. “We are following the protocols of the Oregon Health Authority in terms of the case investigation. We are really taking this seriously.”

She advised that people use the same precautions to prevent COVID-19 exposure as they would to avoid the seasonal flu.

“Washing hands constantly, not touching your face with an unwashed hand, sanitizing common areas frequently – that is the best way of protecting ourselves during this time and during flu season in general,” Polanco said.

She added people should contact their primary care doctor for an assessment if they suspect they have COVID-19 or have reason to believe that they’ve been exposed. Those without a primary care physician should contact Polk County Public Health for assessment at 503-623-8175.

“We are available,” Polanco said. “What we prefer is that people call ahead of time and we will go through specific criteria we are following on that.”

Polk County Fire District No. 1 has been preparing for the potential impact of COVID-19, Chief Ben Stange said.

Since March 2, “each employee who has reported to work has been trained on the response protocol, been fit-tested in N95 masks, and has walked through the procedure of donning and doffing the required body substance isolation equipment,” Stange said in a report he is scheduled to give to the fire board on March 12.

The fire district has an adequate supply of eye protection, gowns, and N95 masks, he said.

“It is important to note that if our personnel wears the body substance isolation equipment outlined in the response protocol, as long as no aerosol-generating procedures are performed, the Oregon Health Authority does not recommend any work restrictions,” Stange said.

Stange is part of a state ad-hoc committee to address and communicate questions and guidance on quarantine of first responders. They’ve identified a potential location if any personnel need to self-isolate, he said.

He attended a meeting with other local agency representatives at Western Oregon University last week.

Rebecca Chiles, director of WOU campus public safety arranged the meeting, said Lisa Catto, WOU assistant marketing and communications director.

Polanco led the meeting, the purpose of which was to “provide an opportunity for various local organizations to share information, ask questions and discuss what is currently being done for preparation and precaution. And, frankly, just to meet each other face-to-face and build stronger connections between organizations,” Catto said.

Local police and fire chiefs, school superintendents and representatives from Polk County Community Health, West Valley Hospital, Polk County Emergency Management, Monmouth and Independence and WOU attended the meeting, Catto said.

“At the request of OHA and the State Fire Marshal’s office, our fire district will not publish any of our own information regarding COVID-19,” Stange said.

Oregon Health Authority

Centers for Disease Control

World Health Organization

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