This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

Coronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirusOregon Health Authority resourcesWashington County resourcesOregonian reporting on the coronavirusOPB glossary of coronavirus termsNYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

SALEM - Oregon has confirmed that an Oregonian has died from COVID-19.

"Tonight we shared sad news. A 70-year man, a resident of Multnomah County who had underlying medical conditions, became the first person in Oregon to die from COVID-19. He had been hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The individual is not connected to the cases at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon," a statement from the Oregon Health Authority read.

“While we knew we would arrive at this day at some point, it doesn’t lessen the impact,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the family of this individual who honorably served his country.”

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is providing ongoing updates to its website regarding the latest closures, information, and resources in response to the novel (meaning new) coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

As always, the OHA wants to remind the public one of the best defenses against contracting the respiratory illness, now called COVID-19, is washing hands frequently, covering coughs with an elbow, and staying home for anyone who feels ill, even an individual believes he or she may have a common cold or is experiencing seasonal allergies. 

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On Saturday, March 14, the OHA announced Oregon now has 36 confirmed cases of people officially diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Later that day, the OHA also confirmed Oregon's first death.

That’s an addition of six new cases announced since 10:30 a.m. this morning (March 14). 

The OHA says there now are three new cases in Washington County, two new cases in Deschutes County, and one new case in Linn County, the latter diagnosed at the veterans’ home in Lebanon. 

One of the people infected in Deschutes County recently traveled to a country where the virus actively is spreading, the OHA website says. Individuals diagnosed with the four remaining new cases are believed to have acquired COVID-19 within their respective communities. 

“With these latest test results, our concerns and efforts remain laser-focused on (the) nine honored veteran residents who are presumptive positive for COVID-19,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. “We are vigilantly working with (the OHA), Linn County Public Health, and other partners to ensure all possible steps are being taken to help mitigate additional impacts to our residents and staff. Our thoughts are with the affected veterans and all residents, as well as their families.”

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist for the OHA’s Public Health Division, said “it’s difficult” for health officials to learn that Oregon is seeing COVID-19 actively spread throughout communities.

“It’s a good reminder to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19,” he said. “It’s also a good reminder to take steps to protect yourself, and vulnerable friends and family members, by washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home if (you feel) sick.”

People considered high risk include adults 60 (years old) or older and anyone with a serious health condition, including lung or heart problems, kidney disease, or diabetes -- or anyone who has a suppressed immune system. 

Those who are vulnerable to any of the above conditions are urged to follow the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to stay home as much as possible, and to avoid any gatherings no matter how small or large, an OHA statement says. 

All state residents and visitors/tourists are urged to take the following basic precautionary measures:

--Never visit a hospital or long-term care facility if you have a fever, cough, or illness.

--Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

--Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday two times). 

--Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

--Stay home if you feel ill, even if you believe you’re experiencing nothing more than a common cold or allergies. 

COVID-19 spreads like the flu -- it has been confirmed to be airborne -- so when someone sneezes or coughs within about six feet of an infected person it can spread the illness. 

Symptoms typically develop within 14 days of exposure in someone who has caught the coronavirus. Symptoms present much like the flu -- fever, runny nose, a dry, nagging cough, headache, sore throat, and other general feelings typically associated with the flu. 

That’s why it’s been more difficult for health officials to identify individuals infected with COVID-19, and to stop its spread, the OHA website says. 

Oregon residents, visitors, and tourists are urged to stay informed by keeping abreast of updates to the Oregon response, the United States’ response, and the global response via the World Health Organization.