Oregon has 1st coronavirus case: elementary school employee

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Three officials of the Oregon Health Authority testified on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, before a committee of the Oregon Legislature in Salem, on preparations for a possible outbreak of coronavirus in Oregon. Appearing before the House Committee on Health Care were, from left, OHA Director Patrick Allen, Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist, and Akiko Saito, section manager of health security, preparedness and response. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon's first coronavirus case emerged on Friday, and the infected person worked at an elementary school in the Portland area, which will be temporarily closed, authorities said.

“The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure," the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement.

The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers.

Health authorities planned to spend the weekend scrambling to find everyone the unidentified person, who has been hospitalized, had been in contact with.

Hours before the case emerged, the state ramped up efforts to combat an outbreak amid potential challenges, including closing schools, businesses and events, and sustained shortages of medical supplies.

At a hastily called news conference, state health officials did not release details on the person, citing patient privacy. But they said the person had spent time at the elementary school, located in a Portland suburb.

“State and local authorities are responding quickly to this case,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told the Portland news conference. Brown urged people not to panic.

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said a test sample sent to a lab in Oregon was positive, and that it was being sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for confirmation.