Clinician Alert: Updated Interim guidance issued March 5 for COVID-19 in Oregon

March 5, 2020

Since February 28 there has been a confirmed case in a Washington County resident and a presumed case in a close household contact. We continue to emphasize close and prolonged contact as posing the highest risk of transmission.

In response to a community request, Clackamas County tested several individuals associated with the Lake Oswego School District who had mild symptoms and would not have otherwise met CDC guidance for testing. All these tests were negative.

As of close of day on 3/4/20, 61 tests had been submitted to the Oregon State Public Health Lab: 3 positives and 13 pending. Updated testing numbers can be found on the OHA website.

There have been cases in Umatilla Co (Oregon), Washington State and California, and CDC has opened up testing criteria as of yesterday. Almost all of the cases now in the Western states have been community acquired - in other words no known links to travelers with COVID-19. 

Criteria for testing

As of right now, the Oregon State Public Health Lab is the only approved site for COVID-19 testing in the state. They can test approximately 40 people per day (assuming 2 specimens for each individual).  

Until local lab testing capacity increases, local and state public health officials are prioritizing testing for individuals who are hospitalized with a lower respiratory viral illness AND and a negative test for influenza. Testing is also appropriate for symptomatic travelers to affected countries and close contacts of known cases of COVID-19. 

This may change soon as commercial labs begin testing. 

See OHA’s streamlined guidance for testing criteria and specimen submission.

We are asking you to:

  • Be prepared to see patients who have a fever or cough illness and need an evaluation. 

  • Consult with your internal infection preventionists or see our outpatient guidance.  

  • Confirm with your local public health department if you are concerned about possible exposure of an individual to COVID-19.

Concern about COVID-19 is NOT a reason to deny care to a patient.  

Please note that Forest Hills Elementary faculty, students and staff are now considered to have the same risk as the general public.

For individuals who you believe can safely do home care, give a clear recommendation to stay home until they are well for 24 hours and create a plan for what to do if their symptoms become worse.

Recommend seasonal influenza vaccine to all of your patients aged 6 months and older who have not yet been vaccinated or are unsure. Flu season can last well into the spring. Vaccination is an excellent way to lower your patients’ chances of having a cough illness and be able to continue working and attending school. A recent CDC analysis concluded that the flu vaccine is a fairly good match to circulating strains this year.

Make sure your clinic staff stay home if they are sick with an unexplained cough or any constitutional symptoms are compatible with a viral prodrome.

Public Health 24-hour numbers 

Clackamas County Public Health: 503-655-8411

Clark County Public Health: 564-397-8182

Multnomah County Public Health: 503-988-3406

Washington County Public Health: 503-846-3594