Oregon veteran, 70, is state's 1st coronavirus fatality, officials say

A 70-year-old U.S. military veteran from Multnomah County, Ore., which includes Portland, has become the first patient in the state to die of coronavirus, the Oregon Health Advisory confirmed Saturday.

The man, who was hospitalized at the Portland Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, had underlying health conditions, FOX 12 Oregon reported.

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

The man tested positive March 10 in a likely case of “community spread.” He hadn’t traveled out of the country recently or come into contact with anyone known to have the virus, FOX 12 reported.

"Although we knew this day would come, it does not make it any easier to learn of the first Oregonian to succumb to this illness –– an honored veteran who served his country to protect the freedoms we all hold dear," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. "The loss of one life to this disease is too many. Already, thousands around the world have felt the pain that casts its shadow over one family here in Oregon."

His case also had no link to others at the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon, the report said.

“This is a sobering reminder that this virus is in our community and can be serious for older people and those with underlying conditions,” Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County health officer, said, according to FOX 12. “This loss has motivated us to continue our efforts to minimize the impact of this virus on our community.”

At least 36 people have tested positive in the state and Brown on Wednesday announced all gatherings of more than 250 people will be canceled for the next month, OregonLive reported.

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The West Coast of the United States has been hit hard by the virus with 642 cases and 40 deaths in Washington state and 288 cases in California and five deaths as of Saturday night.

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