Officials make final plea for public to cancel Thanksgiving plans

Coronavirus

Vines: Large gatherings with food will translate to increase in infections

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a response to the coronavirus cases rising around the state and across the country, local health officials held a media briefing Tuesday to discuss strategies for containing COVID-19.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines, Washington County Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann and Clackamas and Washington County EMS Medical Director Dr. Ritu spoke and answered questions with the media.

Dr. Vines began the briefing with a grim forecast if the public refuses to abide by the restrictions and health recommendations officials have been stressing all year.

“I think our key takeaway is one last chance, hopefully, to reach people to cancel, or extremely dial back, their Thanksgiving social plans,” said Vines. “Given what we’ve seen in the past whenever there’s a holiday that involves a lot of food and gathering, we tend to see an increase [in illnesses] about two to three weeks later. And the way things are now, an increase two to three weeks would land us in an extremely difficult position across the metro area as far as hospital beds, potentially emergency response times and just generally our ability to respond and manage this virus and frankly save lives.”

Clackamas and Washington County EMS Medical Director Dr. Ritu Sahni said the aftermath of the holiday season could be catastrophic for healthcare workers who would be overwhelmed.

“If you require emergency care, that care could be delayed,” said Sahni. “It also means that diagnosis and identification of severe conditions would be delayed.”

Fellow health official Washington County Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann said people need to take it upon themselves to be proactive with contract tracing and going the extra mile in safety measures.

“We are asking for your help–first and foremost–to stop the spread of the virus and avoid getting exposed yourself,” Baumann said. “The other way that we’re asking you to help, is that if you do test positive, you have COVID-19, please reach out to your close contacts right away.”

Despite health officials’ pleas for people to stay home, airports around the country still experienced a high volume of travelers over the weekend.

Watch the full Q&A below…

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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