March 3, 2020

Ahmed Abdi, a community health worker who works at Mid-County Health Clinic, sees how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting many of the communities of color he works with. As a culturally-specific provider, he said the disease is stoking fear and misinformation.

Community Partnerships coordinator Beth Poteet, right, teams up with a team of nurses to offer workshops on COVID 19.

Abdi is among about 100 community health workers Multnomah County is training this week to share facts and recognize the signs and symptoms of the emerging virus. 

On Tuesday, March 3, the County’s Communicable Disease team transformed East Gresham Health Center into a training ground for frontline public health workers. The training was one of four COVID-19 briefings organized by epidemiologists from the County’s Communicable Disease Services. 

Health experts delivered the latest insight on the disease, which had infected three Oregonians as of March 3 and more than 90,000 individuals globally. Topics ranged from community health practices and the basics of coronavirus to countering stigma and practical ways to implement lessons learned in the community.

COVID-19 is spread between people who are in close contact with each other. The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. There is no specific treatment, aside from supportive care to relieve symptoms. 

Adriana Cardenas, a community health worker at North Portland Health Center, attended the training to sharpen up her knowledge on the disease to help her better serve the community she works with.