COOS BAY — As of Friday afternoon there had been no cases of COVID-19 reported across Coos County. But those who were just monitoring on social media and through community conversations, a different picture may have presented itself.
“We have found since this whole thing started that rumors are abound in the community as far as someone shows some signs or symptoms or someone goes to the doctor and someone next door has determined that they have COVID-19 which isn’t the case,” said Brian Leon an epidemiologist for Coos Health Wellness on Friday afternoon in a conference call.
“We are still at zero cases. We keep following through on investigations. You know, just when we think there is a tip we may have received that might go somewhere it ends up at a dead-end. So far at least.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday afternoon there were over 85,000 cases throughout the United States, including 316 in Oregon.
Leon spent part of his Thursday chasing down leads about a possible case in the county that proved to be false. These leads on potential cases have been coming to Coos Health Wellness through calls, emails and online posts.
“That is absolutely fine, we want that,” said Leon of the tips the organization has received. “It is the ensuing rushing to social media and throwing stuff around regarding the public that is not helpful.”
With no cases to report, Leon noted that there have been community members questioning the reporting process.
“There was some community feedback we received that there was concern that we were hiding cases,” said Leon, adding that if there were a positive case, it may make the rest of the community more likely to practice social distancing. “We have no motivation to hide any positives … We have nothing to hide and we are absolutely going to be forthright when it comes to an actual confirmed case.”
Coos Health and Wellness provides daily updates online for what is happening both locally and at the state level in addition to resources for individuals.
The organization is hoping community members are responsibly prepared and will be ready if the virus infects those in the area.
“We’re going to have a time where we’re going to have a case or a few cases,” said Florence Pourtal-Stevens. “I do certainly hope that our community is going to be kind enough to not discriminate, not retaliate and not bully people who they think might be the ones who are infected with COVID-19. This is not helpful.”