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Oregon coronavirus cases likely to grow

Monday brought no new Oregon cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That left the total number of confirmed cases in the state at 14, two of them in Jackson County. So far, no one in Oregon has died from the disease.

That pause is likely to be brief, however, and Oregon is likely to see its number of cases grow, and to see deaths. As of Monday, Washington state had the second largest number of cases in the country at 137, trailing only New York, with 142. Washington has seen 19 deaths. California has had 95 cases, including one death.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Sunday after the number of presumptive positive cases doubled. The declaration makes more resources available to respond to the spread of the virus.

Nationwide Monday, there were at least 616 cases and 22 deaths.

So what does this mean for Southern Oregon residents, and what should people here do — or not do — to limit the chances of contracting the virus? The answers to those questions depend in part on each person’s circumstances.

The federal Centers for Disease Control says the new coronavirus appears to be most dangerous to older people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. Unlike influenza, which is dangerous to young children and to older adults, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of the disease consist of fever, a cough and shortness of breath.

Tests are being conducted, but only on people suspected of having the disease. Health providers ask that people who believe they may have COVID-19 call first, rather than going to a clinic or the hospital.

Many cases worldwide have been relatively mild. People who are sick should stay home, not go to work and not use public transportation.

All seven new Oregon cases announced Sunday were from the virus spreading within the community or from contact with a known case. None involved international travel.

The death rate from this disease is hard to pin down accurately, because so far it is based on the percentage of confirmed cases that result in death. The World Health Organization is reporting a mortality rate of 3.4% worldwide, but the number of actual cases is probably much larger, which would mean a lower mortality rate. Health officials say the disease appears to be more deadly than seasonal flu, but much less so than diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS.

For now, the best advice seems to be: wash your hands, thoroughly and frequently, and don’t touch your face.