SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 (Renchinkhand/Creative Commons)

After announcing the fifth positive COVID-19 test in Lane County Tuesday night, Lane County Public Health provided details of the patient at a press conference Wednesday morning. The Eugene-Springfield woman, in her 40s, was reported to be stable and in communication with LCPH’s Communicable Disease Investigation Team. 

The woman is in her residence, LCPH spokesperson Jason Davis said, and abiding by all public health recommendations, including staying home.

Davis said that they believe the woman was first exposed March 7 from domestic travel in the state of Oregon. On March 9, she developed a dry cough and sore throat, later developing a fever on March 17. She went into a care provider and was tested on March 21.

Davis reported that labs conducted 222 tests for COVID-19 in Lane County, with 5 cases returning positive, as of early Wednesday.

The 222 tests were not representative of the full sample of tests coming from Lane County to various labs, Davis said. One of the largest labs, processing between 30 and 40 samples a day, is “batch reporting,” or saving up test results on the negative side for two to four days before reporting them, he said. 

However, Davis said, the positive results are received in real time. One lab is not reporting out negative results, and LCPH is working to make those numbers available.

“As we start to see these numbers really climb,” Davis said, “500, 600, 700 and beyond, then they will become less of an important factor in understanding the level of testing and really just assuming that testing is happening.”

LCPH does not report specific cities or neighborhoods that feature COVID-19 cases. “You hear a lot about patient privacy and how important that is. For us at Public Health, it’s not only the law, it’s also central for us to build that trust in our community so that people can feel free to share information with us, which will help us in responding better,” Davis said.

“If we feel as though an individual was not abiding by public health procedure or we couldn’t count on them to help prevent the spread of COVID,” he said, “then that would be the situation where we would weigh whether or not to share more information.” 

He said that everyone who tested positive has complied with Public Health guidelines to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.

Davis said that their “big stack” of Personal Protective Equipment, located at LCPH’s North Delta Highway warehouse, totaled 101,000 pieces. He clarified that some of that number comes from nitrile gloves, which can come in packs of 50 to 100. “It’s not like we have 101,000 masks, per se.” 

“But it’s a great start,” he said.

Davis said LCPH purchased almost 50 gallons of hand sanitizer from local distilleries, Thinking Tree Spirits in Eugene and Springfield-based Swallowtail Spirits. The sanitizer will go out to first responders to supplement their needs. 

State public labs made verification panels available for several labs, including Oregon Health and Science University, Kaiser and Providence Lab, Davis said. The verification panel, he said, serves as a type of test that state labs can administer to give FDA approval to other labs. By having other labs certified, Davis said that there will be less pressure placed on one individual lab and allow more testing.

“Our hospitals are in good shape,” he reported, with preparation beginning in early February between hospitals and LCPH. “As of today, they are stable.”