Benton County responds to COVID-19

Benton County, Oregon blue logo with county courthouse in front of trees and a blue sky
Monday, March 16, 2020

The Benton County Health Department reports two Corvallis residents, who are currently located in the state of Washington, tested positive for COVID-19. The residents have been residing with relatives in Washington. They were infected by a household contact in Washington, and will stay in Washington through their illness and recovery period. 

Benton County Health Department routinely performs follow-up investigation for people that live in Benton County and get a communicable disease while traveling. 

Benton County is aware of and awaiting results on less than a dozen additional tests and will communicate if results are positive.

Declaration of Emergency

Tomorrow the Benton County Board of Commissioners will discuss and likely declare a Local State of Emergency. Additionally, tomorrow the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated jointly by Benton County and the City of Corvallis to manage the response to COVID-19. All precautions have been taken in the EOC, as social distancing has been taken into consideration and the space can accommodate this requirement.

“Benton County Health Department has helped coordinate the information flow with our local and state partners for the past several weeks as the coronavirus threat has grown. The situation has rapidly evolved, and now it’s time to ensure we have a systematic way to sustain this response over time,” said Pat Malone, Benton County Commissioner.

“Our utmost concern for staff has been taken into consideration. We feel confident that we can activate the EOC while keeping the staff safe, and hopefully mitigating the spread of the virus. As for the families in Benton County, we encourage the public to review their family emergency plan and stay informed with information from reliable sources in order to make the best decisions for you, your family and your loved ones.”

With the declaration, Benton County can access state and federal resources if the emergency response exceeds local capacity. Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a statewide emergency declaration on March 8.

Vulnerable Populations

As part of the Benton County response to COVID-19, we are ensuring the most vulnerable in our communities are receiving prevention and self-care information about the virus.

A team of County and City staff members held a community meeting last week with various social service agency and organization leaders. Following the meeting, the County Joint Information Center assembled food service and congregate housing guidance and then provided to numerous local agencies, including DevNorthWest, United Congregationalist, Jackson Street Youth Services, Community Services Consortium, Linn-Benton Housing Authority, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, The Room at the Inn, SafeCamp, Benton Habitat for Humanity, League of Women Voters, Corvallis Housing First, Oregon State University Human Services Resource Center, City of Corvallis, Stone Soup, and leaders in the non-profit and social service space that provide services to the homelessness.

In addition to meeting with social service agencies, Public Information Officers in the Joint Information Center are developing multilingual handbills for individuals without access to the internet or landline telephones. These handbills, and prevention supplies, will be distributed primarily among individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Benton County also plans to utilize its mass notification system to reach individuals that may be self-isolating and/or do not have access to the internet.

The Liaison Officers responding to COVID-19 in Benton County are proactively reaching out to organizations and agencies serving vulnerable populations, especially organizations serving those with limited English proficiency, to provide prevention and health information.

Testing

COVID-19 testing criteria and processes are rapidly evolving. At the beginning of the outbreak, Oregon healthcare providers seeking testing of their patients submitted requests through County health departments. Last week testing became available through hospitals and private labs, and medical providers submit their requests directly to the Oregon Health Authority. County health departments are notified about tests once results are completed. 

Benton County will report any cases as we are notified.

School District Updates

The Corvallis School District is providing lunch at no cost to any student 18 and younger at four meal sites in Corvallis. 

The Philomath School District will be providing lunch service at Clemens Elementary School to students 18 and under as they do during the summer. 

Monroe School District staff will be providing grab and go lunches for all Monroe children from 11:00 to 1:00 at Monroe Grade School starting Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20. There will be no charge for these lunches.

 
The most up-to-date Benton County, Oregon COVID-19 information is available online at https://www.co.benton.or.us/coronavirus.