County opens swine flu hotline tonight

Jackson County will activate an emergency hotline at 5 p.m. today to answer questions about swine flu.

The phone will be staffed by volunteers from the Ashland Community Emergency Response Team between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays, but could remain active over the weekend if developments warrant. During other hours, callers may leave a message and a phone number to receive a return call.

The hotline can be reached at 541-774-3880.

A state hotline, in English and Spanish, is also available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-800-978-3040.

With at least one case of swine flu likely in Portland, county health officials are continuing to plan how they will respond if the virus surfaces here. In a press conference this afternoon, county medical officer Dr. Jim Shames clarified the procedure that would drive flu-related school closures.

Current recommendations are that only schools and child-care centers that have a case of swine flu would be closed, and they would remain closed until there are no new cases among the student population for a period of seven days after the last case was identified.

County public health officials, school officials and the state public health officer would make the decision to close local schools. The state public health officer would determine whether statewide school closures are necessary, and would communicate that recommendation to the state superintendent of schools.

— Bill Kettler

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