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Coronavirus test kits in short supply

Two cases of coronavirus in Jackson County along with new cases in nearby counties have health officials clamoring for test kits.

“We probably don’t know the extent of the spread,” said Jim Shames, county medical director. “We have limited access to testing still.”

Shames said two people quarantined in the same household have taken precautionary procedures to prevent the spread of the virus and to monitor themselves while they recover.

The two people infected with the virus have tested positive, but the test awaits confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control.

Other people and organizations encountered by the infected couple have been contacted by health officials, Shames said.

As of Sunday, no new cases have come to light in this county, Shames said.

On Sunday, Douglas County health officials confirmed a case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The person is listed as medically stable. Klamath County announced a presumptive case of the coronavirus as well, saying it’s likely travel related.

Other new cases in the state include one in Marion County and five in Washington County.

Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in Oregon on Sunday after seven new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total to 14.

The total county case count now stands at two in Jackson, one in Klamath, one in Umatilla, eight in Washington, one in Douglas and one in Marion.

The declaration allows the Oregon Health Authority to activated reserves of emergency health-care workers and other medical professionals. The state public health director was granted broad authority to take action to contain the virus.

The lack of test kits, which involves swabbing the back of the nose to obtain a sample, is worrisome.

“We expect our federal government to provide us with the tools we need,” Shames said. “South Korea has tested hundreds of thousands of people.”

Shames said he wouldn’t be identifying where the two cases of the coronavirus are located in Jackson County, other than that they are between the ages of 55 and 74, live in the same household and have had travel-related exposure.

“They’re not hospitalized,” he said. “They are quarantining themselves in place.”

He said that in other parts of the country more information about people infected with the virus was released, and the media and others ended up figuring out the identity of the people and harassing them.

“That’s the last thing we want,” he said.

The virus appears to be affecting older people more than the young.

Shames, who is 74, said he’s still trying to stay active, but has become increasingly mindful of washing his hands correctly, not touching his face and has second thoughts about going to places where there will be a lot of people.

He recommends residents, particularly the elderly, take precautions and be prepared in case the virus spreads.

The Oregon Health Authority recommends older residents and those with other health conditions take the following steps: Minimize contact with people who may be ill, avoid large public gatherings, order prescriptions by mail, wash hands frequently, don’t touch anywhere on your face and clean surfaces frequently.

Most people who get the virus show mild symptoms.

The World Health Organization last week reported the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 100,000 with almost 4,000 deaths.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Gov. Kate Brown declares state of emergency to help control coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Gov. Kate Brown's office.