Marion County sees first COVID-19 case as governor declares a state of emergency

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state public health officer, addresses the media last week during a tour of the Oregon Health Authority’s operation center . (Jonathan House/Pamplin Media Group)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Sunday declared a state of emergency as officials detected seven new cases of the novel coronavirus, including the first known case in Marion County.

Five new cases were reported in Washington County, where a school employee was diagnosed with the disease at the start of Oregon’s outbreak, and one case in Douglas County.

The announcement of the new cases brings to 14 the known presumed cases of people infected with COVID-19.

“Today’s news is both troubling and expected,” said Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority. “We know we will see more cases.”

Authorities were releasing few details about the new patients, but said the person ill in Marion County contracted the disease through community spread, not from foreign travel or contact another person known to be infected.

“I am declaring a state of emergency,” Brown said in a Sunday news conference with health officials.

DOCUMENT: Governor’s declaration of emergency

The governor’s declaration is intended to free up more state resources to combat the spread of the disease. That includes activating a corps of retired medical professionals to help, including conducting trace investigations to identify anyone who has had contact with those diagnosed as infected.

Allen urged Oregonians to take the outbreak seriously and to not stigmatize those who are infected or under monitoring.

“We cannot combat COVID-19 if we turn on each other,” Allen said.

This story will be updated.