The global COVID-19 pandemic has hit Lane County, its cities and the whole state of Oregon. To keep you updated on the number of positive cases, measures to tackle the pandemic, how the virus is impacting our community and more, we’ll keep this page updated with whatever breaking news is happening.
Friday, April 3
Lane County Public Health announces four additional cases (all from Eugene-Springfield), bringing the total to 24 positive cases. The first of the new cases is the youngest so far: a 16-year-old male who likely got the virus from a household member. The second is an 18-year-old who got it from a household transmission, too.
“These are our first cases of teenagers,” county spokesperson Jason Davis said at a press conference. “They were exposed firsthand in a household setting to a known case.”
Davis says that now that the county has more private labs testing patients, the county can use some freed up state testing capacities to test congregate settings, like the county jail and senior living homes.
The third is a male in his 70s and the fourth is a female in her 60s; both contracted the virus from travel.
The county says they have had 784 negative tests, but could be higher since private labs only immediately report positives.
At the Friday morning press conference, Davis pointed to a graph and said Lane County’s testing numbers are at the higher level, and the county is on par with other neighboring areas like Portland with how much testing is being conducted.
Wednesday, April 1
Lane County Public Health (LCPH) reports additional positive test results for COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon. This makes a total of 20 positive tests in Lane County.
LCPH says the new cases include:
A male in his 20s from Eugene-Springfield (private residence) who is was hospitalized and is now at home
A female in her 50s from outside Eugene-Springfield (private residence) who was hospitalized and is now at home.
Tuesday, March 31
Lane County Public Health says that Lane County now has 18 positive COVID-19 test results and one suspected COVID-19 death. A
The new cases are:
A male in his 80s from a private residence in Eugene-Springfield is currently hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit.
A male in his 50s from a private residence in Eugene-Springfield is currently at home and medically stable. His case is thought to be travel related.
Lane County also warned of coronavirus related scams. The press release information is below.
MIRACLE CURE SCAMS
• Ignore online offers for vaccinations, home test kits or treatments for COVID-19. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the virus — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.
• Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
• Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits, and “similar to” could mean that the personal protective equipment they are selling doesn’t really work.
• Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
• Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out.
• The government will not ask you to pay anything upfront to get money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
• The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
• ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU THEY CAN GET YOU THE MONEY NOW IS A SCAMMER.
There are a few other precautions we can all take to avoid becoming victims of scammers:
• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
• Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, review trusted sources, including information and websites from federal, state and local government agencies.
Monday, March 30
There are now 16 positive COVID-19 cases in Lane County.
Lane County Public Health (LCPH) was notified this afternoon of additional positive test results for COVID-19.
LCPH says the new cases are:
A female in her 30s from Eugene-Springfield (private residence) who is medically stable at home
A female in her 80s from Eugene-Springfield (private residence) who is medically stable and at home
A male in his 60s from Eugene-Springfield (private residence) who is hospitalized and in stable condition
A male in his 50s from outside the Eugene-Springfield area (private residence) who is hospitalized and in stable condition.
Saturday, March 28
Lane County Public Health announced a suspected point of exposure to COVID-19 at First Christian Church’s Interfaith Prayer Service on March 11. The individual who’s thought to spread the virus wasn’t tested until March 17 because of preexisting medical conditions that made it difficult to assess COVID-19 symptoms, according to a press release from the county.
Lane County Public Health asks that individuals who were present at this location at the identified time call Lane County Public Health at 541-682-1380 only if they have developed symptoms of COVID-19 since the date of possible exposure.
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus, including: fever (a temperature of 100.4º F / 38º C or greater), cough difficulty breathing, and a loss of smell and taste.
The 14-day quarantine period from the date of possible exposure has passed, so non-symptomatic people who attended the Interfaith Prayer Service on March 11 are not being asked to self-quarantine.
Friday, March 27
A ninth positive test was announced this morning: a man in his 60s who lives in a private residence in Eugene-Springfield. He is currently hospitalized and is in stable condition. The patient’s symptoms appeared Thursday, March 19. He had a cough and severe fatigue. At the county’s morning press conference, spokesperson Jason Davis reminded people that severe fatigue is an important factor.
Davis also addressed the question of whether everyone should just get COVID-19. He said not everyone would recover and that would just transmit the disease and overwhelm hospitals, leading to a “point of no return.”
“It’s not an effective strategy nor should it be considered,” he said.
Yesterday, Davis was asked of whether any of these positive cases are people who live in higher density spaces, like apartment buildings. He said that private residences mean single-family housing units. From the county’s information offered about positive tests, no person has resided in higher density areas like senior living spaces or apartments.
Thursday, March 26
Lane County Public Health (LCPH) announced another positive test result for COVID-19 on the afternoon of March 26, saying “This makes a total of eight (8) positive tests in Lane County.”
LCPH says, “The resident is a woman in her 50s who lives in a private residence in Eugene-Springfield. She is currently at home, following all LCPH recommendations, and is medically stable.”
As with the other cases, LCPH says, “Individuals who had contact with this community member will be contacted by Lane County Public Health so they can work with their health care provider on next steps. Communicable disease investigations are currently happening. If a public contact exposure point is identified, that information will be shared with the public.”
Lane County has found two temporary sites for unhoused people who can receive services, sleep in a safe place, eat meals, take showers and have medical screenings, the county said in a statement.
“Our unhoused community members are among our most vulnerable residents,” Lane County Incident Commander Karen Gaffney said in a statement. “Not only is it more difficult from unhoused people to maintain the good hygiene and social distancing that is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but many of the social services they depend on for meals are not able to operate right now, or operating at a much small scale.”
One site is in Eugene at the fairgrounds. Those who aren’t showing symptoms or signs of illness can stay in the convention center. If someone has symptoms of illness, they can stay at the Wheeler Pavilion. The second site, in Springfield, is the Memorial Building, which Willamalane Park and Recreation District owns.
St. Vincent de Paul has been contracted to operate the shelter aspect. The county is working to establish Occupy Medical as the medical screening resource. The city of Eugene, which has an existing network of outreach teams, will provide street outreach to make unhoused individuals aware of the sites and what services are available once both sites are open.
Participation in the service is voluntary. Only the individuals staying at one of the locations overnight will have access to the facilities. Lane County Environmental Health employees are assisting with set up of both sites to ensure that proper social distancing can be observed.
The fairgrounds general shelter site opens today. The county plans to open the Wheeler Pavilion tomorrow. The Springfield location should open tomorrow, too.
Wednesday, March 25
Lane County Public Health announced two new positive tests. One is a woman in her 60s who lives in a private residence in Eugene-Springfield. She is currently medically stable at home, and she likely got the illness from domestic travel. The other is a man in his 30s who lives in Eugene-Springfield. He’s also medically stable at his home.
These two cases make the county’s known positive tests to seven.
Although the 30-year-old is the first person in that age range to test positive in Lane County, Oregon Health Authority’s data shows 12 percent of positives are 30 to 39 (32 positives statewide). The age range with the most positives is are 60 to 69 year olds (21 percent accounting for 57 cases). A close second are those aged 40 to 49 (20 percent, with 55 cases).
Tuesday, March 24
Lane County Public Health reports that it “was notified this afternoon that a test submitted by a local provider came back positive for COVID-19.”
This is the fifth positive test in Lane County. LCPH says that it is a woman in her 40s “who lives in a private residence in Eugene-Springfield.” The county said the woman contracted the virus from domestic travel within the state. The woman is at home, “following all LCPH recommendations, and is medically stable,” the press release says. It also says there will be more information shared tomorrow, if available.
Anyone who had contact with the woman will be contacted by LCPH “so they can work with their health care provider on next steps.” And if “a public contact exposure point is identified, that information will be shared with the public,” LCPH says.
Monday, March 23
After a confusing press conference Friday, March 20, and a ton of Oregonians flocking to the Oregon Coast, Gov. Kate Brown has ordered everyone in the state to stay at home to the maximum extent possible to “flatten the curve.”
“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing. Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations,” she said. “Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks, and our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community.”
The order closes playgrounds, sports courts, skate parks and other outdoor recreation facilities. It also shuts down retail businesses where personal contact is difficult to avoid, such as arcades, barbers, theaters, fitness facilities and more. Businesses not closed by the order are now required to implement social distancing measures or work-at-home options when possible. For the full list of closures, see the governor’s order.
Those who don’t follow the order are considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.
At the same time as Brown notified the order, Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis told people about the fourth living person to test positive for COVID-19 in the county. The woman in her 70s is still hospitalized. Davis said the woman had experienced unexplainable fatigue along with a dry cough and fever. He said that people should monitor fatigue levels and if it’s not because of allergies or emotional, keep vigilant of whether it could be COVID-19.
He also said the county’s emergency business loan was overwhelmed with applicants since the application process began. In the future, the county is working with the private industry to secure additional funds for impacted businesses.
The New York Times is also reporting that for many COVID-19 patients, the loss of smell or taste is a symptom.
Saturday, March 21
At 6 pm, Lane County Public Health announced in an email that there’s now a fourth positive COVID-19 test result: a woman in her 70s. An investigation of the patient’s history has just begun, but what is known so far is the woman traveled domestically. She is currently hospitalized at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, where she was admitted March 19 and when a test was conducted.
At a 3:30 pm press conference outside Lane County Public Health, spokesperson Jason Davis said the third patient to test positive for coronavirus is a bus driver for Eugene School District 4J. He said 240 elementary- to middle-school students ride that bus route, and the county and school district have contacted parents of 300 students in case some other students have used the ride who normally don’t.
The students are not considered high risk because the kids were not in close contact (6 feet) for more than an hour. Additionally, when the bus driver was ill, the school district was already in the habit of increasing sanitation because of the pandemic, Davis said. Bus drivers also don’t come in contact with students; they open the doors with a lever and are seated away from rider, he said.
The school district is already communicating with the 240 parents whose children use that bus line, Davis said. Parents should be inundated with so many communication forms, that they should be tired of hearing about it, he added.
“We’re grateful we took that initial action with our 4J partners and made those phone calls,” he said. “Parents have received communication from Lane County and 4J.”
The children and their families are being asked to remain in self-isolation for four more days, which would be a total of 14 days since the exposure. Davis said he’s not aware of any children with symptoms as of now.
This third case, a man in his 50s, was exposed to COVID-19 when traveling to Washington state Feb. 27 to March 3, so it was a travel-related exposure. He’s currently medically stable.
He had a cough before traveling, but it changed to a productive cough when he returned to Lane County. He had a fever when he returned home; the fever went through a “trough and valley” period for 10 days and the cough continued. He was tested March 17 outside the county’s public health building in a parking lot.
Asked about Gov. Brown’s possible upcoming Monday stay-at-home order, which was announced Friday evening, Davis said the county is in talks with officials to adjust accordingly. He said that Lane County has been trying to be a part of the conversation of creating statewide public health orders.
On Friday, the governor also said she had sent an order to FEMA for 1 million surgical masks, 300,000 testing swabs and 140 ventilators. Davis said Lane County should see some of those goods, but that the county has also seen some community generosity and has received items like gloves from local tattoo shops.
Friday, March 20
In a press call with Gov. Kate Brown, the state won’t enact shelter-in-place policies as long as residents abide by social distancing measures.
“I am urging all Oregonians to stay at home, and we have been saying that for weeks,” Brown said.
She also said people should stop hoarding groceries and toilet paper. There’s enough for everyone, she added, and there’s plenty in the supply chain, according to her conversations with people in the grocer and paper industry. People who are hoarding are putting a hardship on friends and neighbors.
She said yesterday she sent an order to FEMA for 1 million surgical masks, 300,000 testing swabs and 140 ventilators.
The IRS recently said the filing date for taxes would be moved to mid-July. Brown said that she will make decisions about tax filings in a few weeks.
Cities of Springfield and Eugene have committed $100,000 each and Lane County $200,000 to create small business loan program in collaboration with Community LendingWorks. The emergency loans can help businesses deal with fixed expenses, costs for modified operations and bridge funding. If a business isn’t open right now, it can use the funds to rebuild, reopen and rehire later, said Austin Ramirez, an economic development manager at Lane County.
Businesses with 20 full time employees or less can apply. Applicants can ask for up to $30,000 with deferred payments for six months, followed by interest-only payments and then payments graduate as the economy recovers. Ramirez said at the press conference that Lane County Commissioner Joe Berney has advocated for this program for a while.
County Chair Heather Buch said that many rural businesses have reached out to here about the impact of social distancing measures on their businesses. The program earmarks $120,000 just for rural businesses.
“We are also identifying how we can support vulnerable community members, including renters and unhoused individuals,” said Mayor Lucy Vinis at the event.
She added that the city has preexisting loan programs and can defer payments for businesses that already have loans with the city. But for those who have experienced joblessness or cut hours, the mayor recommended state social services.
“Right now our priority is to encourage impacted employers and their employees to reach out to the Oregon Employment Department and learn more about their resources for people who have been laid off,” Vinis said.
Thursday, March 19
At Lane County Public Health’s daily morning meeting, no new positive tests were announced, but officials did say that they have notified some first responders that they could have been exposed to a patient who tested positive for COVID-19. These individuals have self-isolated while Lane County Public Health and the Eugene-Springfield Fire infection control officer conduct dual investigations. The investigation includes looking at proximity to the patient, duration of time, personal equipment worn and procedures used during resuscitation.
Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis said that Public Health also facilitated a test of a Eugene School District 4J employee at the Lane County Public Health parking lot, with medical staff dressed in full PPE. The employee had direct contact with a known positive case.
“He was not symptomatic but reported to work,” Davis said, referencing March 10 and 11. “4J is following up with direct communication of parents of students we believe may have had contact with this person.”
During the county’s investigation, a small number of bus routes were identified as possible exposure points. About 240 parents could have kids who were exposed to this person, but Davis said that even if that 4J employee tests positive, those children are not considered high risk because they do not meet public health definitions of dangerous exposure: working in six feet proximity for more than an hour. Schools can’t be specificied but he said that the school range was elementary to middle school.
If parents are concerned, they should call the county’s coronavirus hotline.
Springfield Police Department Chief Rick Lewis, when asked about how police will enforce the Gov. Kate Brown’s gathering ban, said that Oregon Liquor Control Commission could play a role — and has in some situations. Should a business defy the governor’s ban, liquor licenses could be withdrawn.
Open spaces are still considered safe spaces, Davis said, but he encouraged people to not use playgrounds and instead use open fields.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is considering a shelter-in-stay order, but Davis said that as long as people in Lane County follow along with social distancing, the chances of orders like these happening are less likely.
“Everything that’s going on is unprecedented,” he said, but he emphasized the importance of social distancing. “If we do it in a concerted manner, we can avoid the extreme measures.”
Wednesday, March 18
Currently, Lane County has had two positive COVID-19 test results and ordered a total of 98 tests with 15 still pending.
The governor’s social distancing measures have hit the restaurant business hard and individual companies have already laid off workers. Some businesses that have laid off staff include Hot Mama’s (two-thirds of its staff), Elk Horn Brewery (24 employees), and more. Many businesses however are still doing take out and delivery.
Oregon’s Special Joint Legislative Committee on Coronavirus held its first-ever meeting today. The committee’s co-chairs are Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene).
Last night, Gov. Kate Brown announced an extension of the closure of Oregon’s schools through April 28. The order says schools must provide learning supports and supplemental services to students and families during the period, which includes food delivery and child care for essential health care professionals and first responders. School districts may have educators and employees deliver limited learning and support services and must pay all regular employee.