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The Chief first reported Columbia County's third pandemic-related death on Saturday, Nov. 21.

The following is information released Monday night, Nov. 23, by Columbia County.

Pandemic Death

"Columbia County is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, and the likelihood of coming into contact with Covid-19 is higher than it’s ever been within our community."

Columbia County

Columbia County has suffered its third loss to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Oregon Health Authority statistics reported on Saturday, Nov. 21.

The 75-year-old Columbia County woman was Oregon's 815th COVID-19 death. She tested positive on October 23 and died on November 19, at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.

“Coronavirus is real and we do see deadly effects from this virus,” Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) Portland Residency Director Dr. Joe Skariah said. “We know what we can do right now and that’s what we need to be doing. Wear a mask, social distance, practice good hygiene – it will protect you and those around you.”

Columbia County is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, and the likelihood of coming into contact with Covid-19 is higher than it’s ever been within our community.

According to Columbia County Public Health Director Michael Paul, we have a test positivity rate and the number of new cases per week have been steadily increasing for several weeks. Additionally, weekly hospitalizations from Covid-19 continue to break records. As of today, there are 456 coronavirus patients hospitalized across Oregon. 44 of those patients were hospitalized since Friday.

“We want people to know their individual actions have consequences for the community. You can infect others without knowing it,” Paul said. “Healthcare workers are asking for our help. Businesses have had to close to comply with the freeze, and we need this freeze to work so we don’t have to do it again.”

Due to the surge in cases, Columbia County Public Health is asking that any citizen who tests positive begin reaching out to their close contacts themselves.

“We will continue to try to reach everyone within 24 hours, but we have reached a tipping point that requires us to implement surge protocols,” Paul said.

This means that not all positive Covid-19 cases will get a full public health follow-up, and contacts may not hear directly from local public health contact tracers in a timely manner. Those who test positive should review the Columbia County Public Health’s “After Testing Guide” and follow the instructions below:

Key points for patients

Anyone getting COVID-19 testing should stay home until they hear about test results. That includes people without symptoms.

If your test is positive

  • Stay home for at least 10 days AND a full day has passed since your fever is gone AND your symptoms got better. If you feel entirely well, (have no symptoms), stay home for 10 days from the day you had the test done.
  • Have a plan for how to get care if you feel worse.
  • Get help with rent, grocery delivery, other supports by calling 211
  • Make a list of people you spent time with starting two days before you started feeling sick (or two days before you got tested if you don’t feel sick). Anyone who was within six feet of you for at least 15 minutes total in any single day is considered exposed. It doesn’t matter if you were outside or using masks. Go through your list and let your contacts know they need to stay home and away from others for 14 days from the date they were last with you. The sooner they stay away from others, the less likely the virus is to spread.
  • We recommend that you tell your employer or supervisor about your positive test result. They are required to keep your identity confidential, but they may need to notify the other employees quickly to prevent spread of the virus.

If your test is negative:

  • If you are a close contact to someone who has the virus you must still stay home for 14 days since your last contact.
  • If you are a close contact to someone who has the virus and you have or develop symptoms, stay home for 10 days AND at least a full day has passed since your fever is gone and your symptoms have gotten better.
  • If you have not had close contact with someone who has the virus and you have symptoms, stay home until 24 hours after you are better.
  • Otherwise, continue limiting the number of people you have close contact with; remember physical distancing and use face coverings.

Additional statewide information concerning COVID-19-related demographics and information about positive cases can be found on the Oregon Health Authority's website at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.

General questions about COVID-19 can be answered by calling 2-1-1. Questions about your specific medical needs should be directed to your health care provider. If you cannot find the information you need via the website and number provided here, call Columbia County Public Health at 503-397-7247.

Follow the daily pandemic updates here online with in-depth reports in the Friday print editions of The Chief.

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