Updated 04/05/20

Multnomah County FAQs

COVID-19 Testing

It’s important to remember that there may never be adequate capacity or tests available for ‘on-demand’ COVID-19 testing. The ability of any healthcare provider, hospital or health system to provide COVID-19 testing depends on the availability of other medical equipment and supplies such as personal protective equipment to safely obtain the testing sample, testing kits and test swabs, and laboratory capacity to process the tests. 

Q: Is Multnomah County testing people who think they might have had a mild case of COVID-19?

Multnomah County is following state and national guidelines regarding testing as well as monitoring testing supplies and testing capacity in the state. Those who think they have a mild case of COVID-19 should isolate until at least 72 hours after fever and other symptoms have resolved.

Q: If I have symptoms, why am I not able to get a test? 

The state is getting more tests, but there are still not enough for everyone who needs one. If you get a fever, along with a cough or trouble breathing, call your doctor. They will let you know if you need to be tested. If your symptoms are mild, you will likely be told to treat your symptoms at home. Learn more about testing, and who is being tested first.

Q: What do I do if my health care provider refuses to test me? 

The Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance reinforcing that healthcare providers must use their medical training, understanding of a person’s medical history and professional judgment to determine if testing will inform next steps for an individual’s care. 

Q: I don’t have a doctor, where do I get care? 

If you need a doctor, call 2-1-1 and you will be given resources to help you find a healthcare provider. 2-1-1 can also help those without health insurance find medical care. 

Data

Q: Where can we find out how many COVID-19 cases there are in Multnomah County?

You can find information about positive tests, negatives and deaths at the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 updates page or Multnomah County’s COVID-19 website.  

Health Systems

Q: How is our region addressing possible shortage of hospital beds, respirators and other life-saving medical equipment? 

All hospitals and health systems are planning for large and sudden increases of people ill with the coronavirus. They are using many strategies including:

  • Delaying elective surgery
  • Moving out-patient visits to virtual appointments
  • Re-purposing space on their campuses to care for increases of patients.

Everyone can help avoid a shortage of critical medical equipment by staying home. This will help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

We need to slow the spread of coronavirus because there are not enough supplies of new medical equipment. Demand for available equipment and medical supplies has been higher than expected in other regions and states. 

The same methods of decreasing healthcare demand will also free up equipment to be re-purposed to be used for patients with respiratory failure from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The supply of ventilators and their use is being tracked daily on a regional and statewide-basis.

Q: How will people be prioritized for care if there is a shortage of life-saving medical equipment?   

How first responders and medical professionals prioritize medical care in an emergency is called triage. The Stay at Home, Stay Safe intervention is intended to avoid the need for such triage. Oregon has a plan called the Crisis Standards of Care. This plan is currently under careful review by health systems statewide.

Q: What happens if 911 is overwhelmed with COVID-19 related emergencies?

The 911 system is working with local government and healthcare systems to: 

  • Expand capacity of non-emergency helplines like 211, or nurse lines to help people decide if they need to call 911. 
  • Use symptom checkers to help individuals decide if they need to call 911. 
  • Provide factual health information about COVID-19 to ensure people understand warning signs. This prevents people with mild symptoms or those who are not-high risk from calling 911 when the more appropriate call is to their own doctor. 
  • Quickly prioritizing high-need care on the phone to triage situations that do not need an immediate, in-person emergency response.
  • By providing non-emergency care “on the scene” -- meaning providing medical care for non-life-threatening emergencies at the location where the emergency caller is located, avoiding the need for the caller to be transferred to a hospital.
  • Sending those who do not need emergency care to a non-emergency department.
  • Preventing first responders and emergency personnel from getting sick by ensuring they are adequately protected by the extensive use of personal protective equipment on all response calls. 

Q: Why do we not have enough masks and other personal protective equipment?

Many factors have contributed to the shortage of personal protective equipment in the United States and globally. The main factors is that factories and companies that make personal protective equipment were directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, an estimated 90% of global mask production comes from China, which is only now recovering from a national slowdown in business and manufacturing due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

Q: How are healthcare workers and those working with vulnerable populations being monitored for COVID-19?

Healthcare workers and vulnerable populations are two of the groups that are high priorities for COVID-19 testing if they are showing symptoms of the coronavirus. 

Health systems are encouraged to follow guidance outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for healthcare professionals. Like all people who test positive, healthcare professionals will be asked to stay home, self-isolate and monitor their symptoms for warning signs

Q: Are healthcare workers and those working with vulnerable populations being asked to stay home if someone in their household is ill?

No, they are asked to watch themselves closely and stay home at the first sign of illness.

Executive Orders to stay home

Q: How will the Governor's Stay Home, Save Lives Order (Executive Order 20-12) be enforced? 

Read more about how the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office will be responding to enforcement concerns.  If you are worried about people violating the Stay Home, Save Lives order, do not call 911. Call the police and sheriff non-emergency number: 503-823-3333. 

If you are an employee with safety concerns at your job site, you can file a complaint with Oregon Occupational Health and Safety. The complaint form is available in English and Spanish. 

Business

Q: I own and operate a food service business, what do I need to know to offer food via delivery or takeout? 

View guidance for restaurants and food service

Q: What do people do if they have concerns/want to report a business or business sector that is not following guidance? 

Read more about how the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office will be responding to enforcement concerns.   

If you are worried about people violating the Stay Home, Save Lives order, do not call 911. Call the police and sheriff non-emergency number: 503-823-3333. 

If you are an employee with safety concerns, you can file a complaint with Oregon Occupational Health and Safety. The complaint form is available in English and Spanish. 

Q: If Multnomah County issues a shelter-in-place order how do essential businesses apply for waivers?

You can learn more about the businesses that are required to close in Governor Brown’s executive order 20-12. See a list of resources available at the federal, state and local level to help businesses during this difficult time.

Q: What businesses in the Portland area are ordered to close to fight the spread of COVID-19?

You can learn more about the businesses that are required to close in Governor Brown’s executive order 20-12.

Public health awareness

Q: What is Multnomah County Public Health doing to educate apartment residents about how the coronavirus can spread through coughing?

Multnomah County Public Health’s Emergency Operations Center works with other local governments, health systems and health care providers, business leaders, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, community liaisons and other community groups to get information to residents and landlords about slowing the spread of the coronavirus. This includes translating essential information into multiple languages and formats such as audio, video and written information. 

You can review our current guidance and find links to additional resources on our COVID-19 website

Transportation and travel

Q: Can I still cross Interstate-5 and Interstate-205 bridges from Vancouver to Portland for work?

At this time you can travel to and from work according to Governor Brown’s executive order 20-12. You must follow the rules of the state you are in while you are there. 

Q: Why isn’t the City of Portland suspending operations for e-scooters and shared bicycles, given there is no sanitization of scooter handlebar grips between rides?

Multnomah County does not license e-scooter and shared bicycle operators.To share concerns, please contact Portland Bureau of Transportation at 503-823-5185.

Volunteer or donate

Q: I would like to sew face coverings to donate to healthcare and other essential workers. Can I do that?

If you are interested in making face coverings for essential workers, we encourage you to connect with an existing, coordinated effort. 

See more information about what types of donations Multnomah County is collecting and how to volunteer.