OHA Guidance on the Coronavirus

February 26, 2020

The following information has been release by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) about the novel Coronavirus.

The Oregon Health Authority and its partners have been closely tracking developments in the United States, and around the world, in the outbreak of a novel coronavirus. OHA’s public health division staff, including the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, have been working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities to monitor reports of new cases of the virus.

We know many people in Oregon, including people your agencies serve and your staff may be concerned about novel coronavirus. To help you address these concerns, I wanted to share a fact sheet (see attached – translated versions available on the OHA web site), an FAQ (bottom of this email) and links to WHO, CDC and OHA information. In addition, here are 3 things you should know about novel coronavirus:

  • The risk for people in Oregon and around the United States remains low. While this novel coronavirus is a serious global public health threat, the vast majority of cases have been in China, or are linked to travel in China.
  • We do not have any positive cases of novel coronavirus in Oregon. As of today, there are 12 confirmed positive cases in the United States.
  • The best way to protect yourself from novel coronavirus is to take basic precautions to prevent flu and colds (e.g., washing hands, etc.). Flu remains the most immediate threat to Oregonians. It is not too late to get a flu shot.

More information: 

Below are some additional FAQs about novel coronavirus based on the facts as we know them so far. 

How can a person contract novel coronavirus from another person?

While we do not know all the mechanisms that spread the disease, many cases are due to an accidental transfer of bodily fluid droplets. Coronaviruses in general are spread through close contact—a range of about 3 to 6 feet. The virus is primarily spread when a sick person coughs or sneezes on someone.

How can I protect myself?

Use the same practical measures you would for any contagious respiratory illness, such as cold or flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

In addition to those practical measures, CDC recommends that everyone avoids all nonessential travel to China.

Can my pet get coronavirus, and can I get coronavirus from my pet?

The genus coronavirus is composed of at least four groups that cause mild to severe illness. Coronaviruses are common in several species of domestic and wild animals, including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels and bats. At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with 2019-nCoV. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.

Can I contract coronavirus from mail, packages or products sent from China?

According to the CDC, the novel coronavirus does not survive well on surfaces. This means there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are most often spread by respiratory droplets. There is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods.

Can I get coronavirus from foods from China?

CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading 2019-nCoV in the United States. The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should always be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

Does the CDC recommend using a facemask to prevent novel coronavirus infection?

No. CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks among people who are not sick. While limited person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.