COVID-19 in Washington County

COVID graph

Most of us are aware that Washington County is leading the state in the number of confirmed cases of the virus. People have been speculating on the reason, so we have included what seem to be some good clues. We have compiled this article from a variety of sources, and links to them are in each section. We’ve also included information about Washington County response and resources.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of April 4 there were a total of 999 cases in Oregon, with 247 of those cases from Washington County. Multnomah and Marion counties are beginning to catch up to us, since our curve seems to be flattening!

COVID graph
One of our readers has been graphing reported cases in Oregon and Washington County. The blue line is the exponential trend line, so it shows that our quarantine efforts are working! Source: Oregon Health Authority

From the Wikipedia page, “2020 coronavirus pandemic in Oregon,”
“On February 28, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported the first case of suspected coronavirus in a resident of Washington County. The patient is an employee at Forest Hills Elementary School in the Lake Oswego School District in adjacent Clackamas County. The patient had not traveled to an infected area, likely indicating that the virus had been contracted within the community. The school district closed the school for three days for deep cleaning. The case was confirmed as coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March 3. On March 1, Oregon confirmed its second case, a household contact of its first case.”

Here’s the Oregonian report, first posted February 28.

He was taken to a Kaiser hospital that was not prepared for his arrival (they did not have the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or procedures to admit people for quarantine) and Kaiser ended up initially quarantining 70 employees until they determined all but 14 would need to self- quarantine.

CBD for Life

At least four people who had contact with this individual got the virus, so there could have been more depending on how long he was carrying before he showed symptoms.

On March 18, it was confirmed a student at Aloha High School reported they had been at school with symptoms the second week of March. The school did not send the student home because they did not suspect at the time that they had the virus. Two other schools in the area, Witch Hazel Elementary School and South Meadows Middle School, both had confirmed cases of covid-19 but remained open until the official school closures were announced to start on March 16. Within that time, any of those students’ friends, teachers, parents, could have contracted the virus.

The county is home to several large companies with business and holdings around the globe, and employees who traveled regularly. Intel cancelled employee travel for most events and meetings in the states and all travel to at risk countries, back at the end of February. The engineers in many departments have been working from home since the first week of March as a precaution, and all non-essential on-site employees have been working from home since the second week. They have very strict distancing practices for all employees that remain on campus.

Nike also closed its headquarters after the first case and did a deep clean of their site. We don’t know if they let their employees back on site after the week they were sent home.

An Intel employee notes, “I must say I was shocked and disappointed when I heard that the schools were staying open for so long when we had already put precautions in place two weeks earlier, when the first case hit the county. After seeing schools undergo lice and stomach flu viruses, it is very easy to see how quickly pathogens can pass between children. Closing schools, especially with known cases, should have been the second place to monitor, right after travel. I have been happy to see the initiative that Intel has taken in reducing the probability of transmission.”

As of March 29, Intel has only announced two cases from the Hillsboro campuses. All employees that worked with these employees were asked to stay home for two weeks. They even took away a food truck and are deep cleaning areas of the site that could have been touched.

Two residents at a care center in the Cedar Mill area, Regency Park on Barnes Road, died as a result of the virus. Two employees tested positive for it just days before the residents were affected, but lack of testing frustrated the facility’s response. The parent company just posted an update showing that a total of ten patients and six employees have tested positive. One resident has had two negative tests after a week in the hospital and is coming home to the facility!

Eugene-area TV station KEZI has a timeline of the disease in Oregon:

WashCo government responds

Washington County Board of Commissioners (BCC) first declared an emergency on March 4. It was extended on March 14 for another two weeks, and on March 31 they voted to extend it until April 16. The order created an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) with responsibilities for coordinating efforts and providing information to the public. Employees from all areas of county administration have been detailed to work on the COVID-19 response.

The county’s EOC activated soon after the first case of new coronavirus was reported on February 28. The coordinated center serves to support public health operations and to coordinate the multi-agency response to the outbreak. Over 100 staff and representatives from several community partners have been working in the EOC since that time, using appropriate social distancing. County staff continues to collaborate with community partners and other jurisdictions to collectively slow the spread of this new disease.

Health officials also ask that the public stay informed and educated through trustworthy sources of information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon Health Authority and Washington County Public Health Division.

Washington County cases
The graph from the WashCo COVID page showing only Washington County data. Check back for updates.

Visit the county website home page for more information and useful links. There’s also a frequently-updated page devoted to COVID-19 information. Here’s a page with charts and maps of Portland region cases by county and week.

See something? Say something…

Many businesses are doing a great job at ensuring proper distancing. If you come across a business that could use some guidance complying with the governor’s order, please call us at 503-846-8390 or send an email to eoc-covidenforcement@co.washington.or.us.
We will need the business’ name, full address, date of possible violation, and what you observed. We will first provide education to help a business come into compliance with the order. Citation through law enforcement is an absolute last resort.

If you feel your own employer is out of compliance, you can report it to OSHA. This is not a County form, not a County website.

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Sheriffs on duty

Non-emergency number: 503-846-2700 • web: wcsooregon.org

Despite the current COVID-19 situation, Sheriff’s deputies remain dedicated to protecting the community and keeping you safe. Please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 for any emergency or the non-emergency dispatch number, 503-629-0111, for other needs, such as reports of theft, fraud, suspicious activity, or other non-emergency concerns.

The Bethany and East Precincts of the Sheriff’s Office are closed to the public until further notice. Our main Hillsboro location remains open for limited services, however, we encourage you to please call ahead to ensure your business needs can still be met at this time, 503-846-2700.

When reasonable, deputies will respond to calls for service over the phone.
If the call requires in-person contact, and the situation allows, a deputy may maintain six feet distance as CDC protocols recommend. Deputies may wear masks or gloves as precautionary measures to protect the public and themselves. Unless the situation deems necessary, deputies responding to residences will ask callers to step outside rather than entering the home.

When conducting traffic stops, deputies will still maintain six feet distance from the passenger side of the car. They may also ask for your name and license number instead of passing materials hand to hand, limiting handing of any documents whenever possible.