OHA cautions older population of crowds as virus spreads


As of Monday, there are 14 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the latest briefing from the Oregon Health Authority, the state’s Department of Human Services is ramping up efforts to protect older people from the coronavirus.

The OHA will now hold briefings twice a week—on Monday and Thursday afternoons—about the spread of COVID-19 in the state. During Monday’s press conference, health officials said their two main goals right now are slowing the spread of the virus and protecting the older population and medically vulnerable.

Couples such as Edith and Gary Hanke said they are being cautious when it comes to the coronavirus, but they’re not letting it stop them from living life like normal.

“Just need to keep the precautions is all. I’m not worried about it and he’s not either,” said Edith. “We’re not going to be prisoners in our own home. We’ve got places to go and things that we need to do.”

The Hankes fall within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s category of those considered most vulnerable to the virus—people over 60 and/or those with underlying health issues. But they said they are still keeping up with daily errands that require being in public.

“They charge you when you have your groceries delivered and when you’re on a fixed income, you don’t want to have to pay extra for something. And if it’s a sale item, you don’t get it on sale,” said Edith.

State health officials said Monday that in order to slow the spread of the virus, it’s imperative that sick people and anyone over the age of 60 avoid large crowds. Oregon DHS said starting this week, they’ll visit the state’s nearly 700 licensed assisted living centers to make sure each facility has a proper emergency response plan if the virus hits the facility.

Gary has a brother in one such assisted living home. He said he’s confident his brother is in good hands. He hopes people take the advice of health officials and try not to get too worked up.

“I think my wife might’ve said this earlier: sometimes we get overly concerned and if we get worried and stressed out, then our immune system isn’t going to do as well,” said Gary. “So I think we have to have a happy medium there.”

As of Monday afternoon, there are 14 positive cases of the coronavirus across six counties in Oregon.

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