This story will be updated throughout the day
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Here is the latest information from April 7, 2020, in Oregon and Southwest Washington in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:
Oregon’s State Emergency Coordination Center confirmed a total of 33 deaths on Tuesday—an increase of four since Monday. Those who have passed away include three women in Marion County: an 83-year-old, 98-year-old and a 71-year-old. The 33rd death was a 91-year-old woman in Washington County. All of the women had underlying medical conditions, authorities said.
Since yesterday, 49 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported, bringing the state’s total to 1,181. The Oregon Health Authority reported the new cases are in the following counties: Clackamas (7), Clatsop (1), Deschutes (4), Klamath (1), Lane (1), Linn (1), Marion (6), Multnomah (15), Polk (2), Washington (11).
Editor’s note: We originally reported an increase in case numbers of 113. That number was incorrect and has since been updated.
Along with Tuesday’s update, the ECC released a breakdown of data such as hospital capacity and PPE supply inventory (see below).
Oregon COVID-19 Medical Advisory Panel
Gov. Kate Brown on Monday convened the first meeting of her COVID-19 Medical Advisory Panel. The panel includes doctors, infectious disease experts and medical professionals from all over Oregon. Their job is to review the status of the coronavirus in the state and make recommendations to the governor on how to respond going forward.
The panel will meet twice a week and focus their efforts on reviewing the ways in which Oregon is handling testing capacity, hospital capacity, acquisition of personal protective equipment and the effectiveness of social distancing measures.
Pot sales skyrocket in Oregon
People are getting high during the pandemic.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said nearly $85 million in cannabis was sold in the month of March — a record since recreational pot became legal in the state in 2015.
People may have been stocking up. The agency said sales dropped slightly in the last couple weeks. Alcohol sales were up 17% compared to March 2019. That might change as closed bars and restaurants send their product back to the state.
TriMet adds decontamination devices
TriMet is still providing transit services to the public, though with some changes including limits on the number of riders on buses and temporary service reductions. To help maintain public health, TriMet has started using portable decontamination devices. The devices spray a fine mist of a hydrogen peroxide-based solution throughout the interior of a bus. Each bus will go through the sanitization routine (which takes about 3 hours) every night.
Wyden blasts Trump
After President Trump removed Glenn Fine as the Acting Inspector General of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden blasted the move.
“Donald Trump will stop at nothing to obstruct oversight and install his yes-men in these key positions. Donald Trump is clearly executing a systematic purge of inspectors general who have done their jobs and refused to bend to political pressures. Every Republican who voted against removing the president paved the way for these authoritarian moves.”
Nike releasing custom PPE for OHSU
Nike has created custom personal protection equipment for frontline healthcare workers.
The company said Tuesday its innovation, manufacturing and product teams have partnered with officials at Oregon Health & Science University to produce full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator lenses.
A first shipment of full-face shields and PAPR lenses was sent to OHSU on Friday, April 3.
“Without proper facial protection, healthcare workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, which could place substantial strain on the healthcare workforce in the months ahead,” said Miko Enomoto, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, OHSU School of Medicine. “The full-face shields help protect healthcare workers’ faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 mask. Nike’s generous response to the COVID-19 crisis helps to instill an added layer of confidence and support for healthcare workers, that we can safely carry out the jobs we were born to do.”
The new PPE will be soon be provided to health systems in Nike’s World Headquarters region, including Providence, Legacy Health Systems and Kaiser Permanente, and others across the state of Oregon.
Brown issues statement on homemade masks
Tuesday morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a statement regarding the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone wear a non-medical, cloth face covering in public.
“This is a rapidly-evolving situation, and each day we learn more about this virus,” said Brown. “Early in this pandemic, health experts advised that masks were not an effective way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now, the CDC has updated their guidance regarding the use of cloth, homemade masks in public: they now say that wearing cloth masks in public places like grocery stores can help prevent those who are sick –– particularly unknowingly infected, asymptomatic people –– from spreading the virus further.”
She also highlighted the need to continuing social distancing and following her “Stay Home” order.
“Like every other strategy we have used to address this crisis, wearing homemade masks will only be effective if we all work together. Continue to stay home to the maximum extent possible, and add wearing a homemade mask to the list of precautions you are practicing when you go out in public. Make sure you are still abiding by all the social distancing measures we have in place.”
Brown urged those seeking masks to please only wear homemade ones, not medical masks that are needed by frontline health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.
Multnomah County launches COVID-19 dashboard
Multnomah County launched a COVID-19 dashboard that tracks the disease in almost real time, officials said Tuesday morning.
Dr. Jennifer Vines said it shows models indicating Oregon is expected to officially peak in late April or early May and it provides information on the ages of people being hospitalized for COVID-19.
“What’s really telling is that we are appropriately focused on older age groups being at risk, but you actually see hospitalizations across the lifespan in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s,” Vines said.
Based on current data, about 1 in 4 confirmed cases are hospitalized. But — so far — it appears Oregon’s social distancing efforts have slowed the spread.
Inslee announces WA Food Fund
At a time when Washington food banks are seeing double the amount of people they usually do, supplies are getting dangerously low.
To combat that waning food supply in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington Governor Jay Inslee is partnering with local nonprofits and philanthropies to establish a statewide food relief fund. It will be called the WA Food Fund and will be managed by Philanthropy Northwest. According to a statement released by Inslee on Tuesday, the fund will combine money from businesses and philanthropies along with individual fundraising.
“Washingtonians are generous neighbors who rise to the occasion, and this is a moment for individuals to make a difference,” Inslee said. “By coming together and contributing to this fund, we can meet this demand across the state and help our neighbors and their families put a meal on the table.”
Updates from April 6, 2020
Oregon reports 2 COVID-19 deaths, 64 new cases
The Oregon Health Authority said Monday it has confirmed two deaths and 64 new cases of the coronavirus.
The state death toll from the pandemic now stands at 29.
One of the casualties was a 93-year-old male in Washington County, who tested positive on March 30 and died April 4, at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.
The other was a 70-year-old Marion county woman, who tested positive on April 1 and died April 2, in her home. She also had underlying medical conditions.
The 64 new cases are from the following counties: Benton (2), Clackamas (6), Columbia (2), Curry (2), Deschutes (1), Douglas (1), Jackson (6), Josephine (3), Klamath (3), Lane (2), Linn (1), Marion (11), Multnomah (10), Polk (2), Umatilla (1), Washington (12).
Wyden concerned about unemployment insurance
After the Department of Labor issued guidance to the states to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, Sen. Ron Wyden voiced his concerns with the guidelines:
“I’m deeply concerned that the Trump administration’s guidance to states on administering expanded unemployment insurance weakens the program in several areas. Most importantly, the guidance forces workers to wade through significant red tape to prove their eligibility, which will inevitably prevent workers from receiving assistance they desperately need and should qualify for.
“While I appreciate that Labor Department staff are working around the clock to implement the program, it’s critical that workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own don’t fall through the cracks. Congress intended for these workers to be covered. I am following up with Secretary Scalia to discuss these issues as soon as possible.”
Walden speaks out about elective surgeries
Rep. Greg Walden said rural hospitals in Oregon are having financial difficulties because elective procedures are currently on hold during the pandemic.
“One thing that I’m going to flag for you that I think is really critical, and that is our rural community hospitals are struggling financially right now in large part because the governor shut down any elective procedures. This is something we’re going to have to get our hands around because some of them are losing half their monthly revenue streams. The revenue that they used to get that would keep the doors open, they’re losing.”
“Part of the money that’s coming out to states such as Oregon with the FMAP increase – the Medicaid payment increase of 6 percent from the federal government – needs to be targeted and focused in on these rural hospital that literally are going broke right now.“