SUNDAY DIGEST: The latest reporting from Salem Reporter, other news teams on coronavirus

The Marion County Health and Human Services headquarters in Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

NOTE: Salem Reporter is providing free access to its content related to the coronavirus as a community service. Subscriptions help support this.

This new digest provides all-in-one-place access to reporting on the novel coronavirus outbreak. A statewide media collaboration is forming to also share coverage among Oregon’s newspapers and broadcast outlets. Salem Reporter is part of that collaboration, and will share reports from around Oregon in our round up. This post will regularly be updated with the latest news.

Question? If you have questions about the outbreak, the disease or other related matters, email reporter Rachel Alexander ([email protected]) for consideration.

Suggestions? What stories would you like to see? Email editor Les Zaitz (les@salemreporter) with your ideas.

Oregon’s decision to close schools came fast as staffing was proving ‘too difficult’

In a matter of hours, Gov. Kate Brown went from vowing to keep a half million kids in classrooms to ordering every school closed. Why? Older employees increasingly were reluctant to show up for work, warned they were in high risk category to become infected.

Oregon sees first death from COVID-19, legislator calls for cash infusion for Oregonians as economy staggers

Oregon officials said a 70-year-old Oregon veteran died Saturday from the coronavirus disease and again urged people to help slow the spread of the disease. Meantime, Oregonians are seeing life change as stores and restaurants close, supplies run low and parents brace for an unexpected week of children with no school.


THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE: Slammed with demand, Winco closes some stores midnight to morning to restock, clean

Winco announced it would close some stores at midnight and reopen the next morning so stores can clean and restock. Managers will re-evaluate after a week.

THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE: Oregon may let day cares exceed capacity limits amid coronavirus shutdowns

Oregon child care regulators are considering whether to let some day care providers take in more children than currently allowed, a proposal prompted in part by statewide schools closures that start Monday.

OPB: Coronavirus Puts Financial, Mental Strain On Gig Workers

Instacart shopper Carl Momberger belted out his preferred hand washing song (upon request) as he delivered groceries in southwest Portland. It’s the first verse of Ween’s “The Mollusk” from 1997. “That’s 20 seconds, and it washes your hands,” he said

EAST OREGONIAN: Pastors consider risk of COVID-19

PENDLETON — Pastor Marc Mullins looked uncharacteristically somber. Mullins, pastor of the First Christian Church in Pendleton, had just come out of a meeting with church leaders in which they had decided to take an unprecedented step. To minimize the risk of COVID-19, the church would hold no worship services for at least the next three Sundays.

BEND BULLETIN: Fallout from coronavirus prompts shopping frenzy in Bend

For weeks, the threat of COVID-19 seemed distant, a crisis associated with datelines that stretched from China to Seattle, but not in Central Oregon. Then, with the diagnosis Wednesday of the region’s first presumptive case of the potentially fatal coronavirus, followed by the statewide closure of schools the next day, daily life changed entirely.

KGW: Is it still safe to go to a restaurant? How do you best care for yourself if you get coronavirus? Your coronavirus questions answered

Q: Is it still safe to go to a restaurant? A: You should avoid going out in public in general, and staying at home as much as possible. If you HAVE to go to a bar or restaurant, go to one that isn’t full, where you can maintain about 6 feet of space between yourself and another person.

KOBI: Locals respond to social distancing, a method suggested by health officials amongst outbreak

MEDFORD — As concerns continue to grow around coronavirus, local health officials are encouraging people to practice social distancing. That’s maintaining several feet of distance from other people to try and avoid the spread of the highly infectious virus.

SEATTLE TIMES: Scarcity of coronavirus testing continues to stymie Washington as disease spreads

Late Wednesday, after an ambulance crew arrived at the Kent home of Fahimeh, a 29-year-old married mother and Iranian refugee, she texted her older brother, Morteza. “They said that I have coronavirus,” she wrote in her native Farsi. “But please, if anything happens to me, I want you to swear to God you will take care of my daughter.”

These articles originally published by one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue. Reports from the Seattle Times are by special permission to Salem Reporter.

FRIDAY, March 13:

Governor orders Salem-Keizer schools, all others in the state, closed in a move to slow coronavirus spread

Gov. Kate Brown Thursday night ordered Oregon’s school districts to shut down their schools for two weeks in an escalating effort to contain the novel coronavirus. The move came as the state recorded six new suspected cases of COVID-19, bringing Oregon’s total to 30.

State authorities expand restrictions in face of estimates that coronavirus could infect 75,000 Oregonians

Schools will close for at least two weeks, prisons are the latest venue to stop visiting, and cancellations of community events continue to build as Oregon confronts what health authorities now say is a global pandemic.

BEND BULLETIN: Central Oregon faces new reality living with coronavirus

Every hour, employees at Market of Choice in Bend stop what they’re doing to sanitize the checkout counters and display cases. Like other grocery stores in Central Oregon, the Bend market is taking an aggressive approach to the possible presence of COVID-19. Even before the timer sounds, employees are cleaning, and gloves have been made available for customers, said Rachel Reese, bakery manager at Market of Choice. “Our store manager is going around and sanitizing the store all day long,” Reese said. “We are trying to keep everything really clean and give customers an option to use gloves.”

THURSDAY, March 12:

The novel coronavirus has come for prom

Large events around local schools and college are being canceled to stop the spread of COVID-19. Among the casualties are scheduled prom McNary High Schools. (Other school proms are later in the year.)

Salem shuts down senior center, library event in wake of public gathering decree

The city, reacting to the anticipated spread of the novel coronavirus, announced the closures on Thursday afternoon.

COLUMN: In the midst of a health crisis Oregon reverts to secrecy, sowing unnecessary fear

Oregon Health Authority officials and spokespeople have routinely refused to share basic, non-identifying information about local coronavirus cases or release statewide data about people under monitoring. Reporter Rachel Alexander writes about how those policies harm public trust.

The lights are going out on one Salem event after another

With new state restrictions on large gatherings, Salem venues Thursday started scratching events. Here’s the latest round up of what’s off the calendar, what’s being postponed and what’s still up in the air around Salem.

Willamette University moves all classes online amid COVID-19 concerns

Willamette’s campus and dorms will remain open, but for at least the next month, all undergraduate and graduate courses are online-only, President Steve Thorsett told students and faculty.

‘We have not seen anything like this in our lifetimes’ governor declares as new measure to combat coronavirus outbreak

Gov. Kate Brown has signed an executive order banning social gatherings. Public health officials said Oregon could see 75,000 cases by mid-May unless action is taken.

Five Keizer Fire Department paramedics quarantined after caring for COVID-19 patient

None of the responding paramedics are reporting an illness, but quarantines could pose challenges for the Keizer Fire Department, which has only 28 firefighters on staff.

Oregon bans large gatherings, school assemblies to end as two in Lebanon veterans’ home found infected with COVID-19

Attempting to contain the novel coronavirus, Gov. Kate Brown is imposing restrictions on large events in Oregon for the next four weeks. The state also is urging schools to cancel assemblies and other gatherings and employers to take cautions as well. Oregon’s major universities said they would switch to remote teaching in spring term.

THE OREGONIAN: Coronavirus spreads to veterans’ nursing home in Oregon; 2 patients infected

Two residents at a veterans’ nursing home in Lebanon in Linn County have now tested positive for coronavirus, the Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday night, signifying a dramatic and troubling turn as the deadly pandemic runs rampant across America.

PRO PUBLICA: Should I Quarantine Because of Coronavirus? It Depends on Who You Ask.

Agencies, local authorities and national governments do not agree on who should be quarantined or what that should actually look like. Here’s what we do know.


As coronavirus fears spread, schools struggle to quell rumors about illness

A false rumor shared Wednesday in a Facebook group for Salem-area parents claimed a local high school student had tested positive for COVID-19. The case illustrates the challenges schools face when fear spreads faster than accurate information.

As the coronavirus outbreak reaches pandemic levels, Oregon sees its number of cases rise to 19

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic. There disease has now officially reached nine counties and is expected to grow. Gov. Kate Brown is preparing to take more measures in response to the outbreak while issues over testing and supplies continue to linger.

BEND BULLETIN: First presumptive COVID-19 case identified in Deschutes County

Just hours after getting test results Wednesday, health officials confirmed the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Deschutes County. More people could be identified in the coming days as the Deschutes County individual’s case is investigated, said Dr. George Conway, Deschutes County Health Services director, at a press conference Wednesday.

Salem providers working to keep coronavirus away from homeless residents

As COVID-19 spreads in the U.S., increased hygiene is being pushed to help Salem’s homeless avoid getting infected. This vulnerable population could see more severe symptoms if they are infected.

We answered your questions about COVID-19 in the Salem area

Here’s what we know and don’t know about the Marion County case of the novel coronavirus, how local hospitals are preparing, and why health officials say this is different than seasonal flu.

Oregon officials restrict visits to elderly in care homes, acting to prevent coronavirus from hitting 30,000

In a continued ramp-up to contain the novel coronavirus, Oregon officials on Tuesday announced tight restrictions for visitors to 670 care facilities. Health officials also urged the elderly, especially vulnerable to the disease, to stay home.

Oregon promised millions from federal agency to help confront coronavirus

Federal officials have advised Gov. Kate Brown that Oregon will get more than $7 million to boost the state’s efforts to contain and treat the novel coronavirus. This comes on top of $5 million shifted from the state’s reserves this week as state health officials expect to see more infected Oregonians in the coming days.

South Salem resident recounts experience being quarantined in China for nearly a month

Dago Benavidez was visiting his mother-in-law in China when COVID-19 sent the country into quarantine. He had to check in and out of the building where he was staying and spent his days watching the world outside through a condo window.

Oregon officials taking emergency actions to contain coronavirus outbreak

With new cases of COVID-19 emerging, state and county health officials are focusing testing to determine how widespread the virus is in Oregon and who is most vulnerable to the infection. At the same time, they urged school officials to take precautions but to close schools only as a “last resort.”


World Health Organization frequently asked questions

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention frequently asked questions

Marion County COVID-19 updates

Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 updates