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Lane County investigates coronavirus cases, death

Lane County Public Health said that coronavirus may have entered the community as early as mid-February.

Posted: Mar 18, 2020 6:41 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2020 6:42 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- Officials are investigating the two known cases of coronavirus in Lane County, one of which resulted in the state's second death related to the virus.

Officials said the first identified case was a 69-year-old man in the Eugene-Springfield area who had contact with two individuals, both of whom are now self-isolating. According to experts, the subject was diligent about reducing activity when symptoms began.

The second case is a 60-year-old woman who died at PeaceHealth's Riverbend Hospital on March 14. Officials said the woman did not live in assisted living and there is no information indicating that she had underlying health conditions.

The woman's symptoms began around March 3, which prompted her to begin self-isolating. Symptoms worsened until she called her health care provider on March 10, complaining of a fever. First responders took her to the hospital on March 14, where she died the same day.

"We are still gathering details about all of the symptoms she experienced, but at this time, what we know is that there was definitely a fever, cough and other light congestion," said Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis.

According to officials, the woman was in contact with nine first responders from Eugene-Springfield Fire, all of whom are now in quarantine for two weeks. The first responders were compliant with department procedures and none are expected to become sick.

Officials with PeaceHealth said their staff are following protective protocols but are still ensuring the safety of caregivers and patients after the death. 

"We are still completing an investigation to determine which caregivers had contact with her, and the extent to which PPE equipment was deployed," director of marketing and communications Marcy Marshall said in a statement. "In the meantime, we are taking every precaution to ensure that no caregivers who may have been exposed are posing a risk to any patients or fellow caregivers.”

Lane County Public Health said that coronavirus may have entered the community as early as mid-February. Now that testing availability is slowly expanding, the number of cases may soon spike. Still, some feel frustrated that they are unable to receive a test, even when presenting mild symptoms.

"The criteria remains a fever, cough and also difficulty breathing right now. So really, the people that are receiving priority for testing are individuals who would need hospitalization," said Davis.

As of Wednesday, 98 tests have been completed in the county, 15 of which are pending.

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