PORTLAND, Ore – Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in Oregon due to wildfires affecting the entire state
“Oregon was already facing a major public health emergency, with the pandemic. Now, deadly fires and dangerous air are compounding the public health dangers facing our communities, ”Senator Merkley of Oregon said Wednesday.
The public health emergency will give physicians and health clinics greater flexibility to meet health needs under Medicaid and Medicaid.
“We are working closely with Oregon health authorities and monitoring the needs of health care facilities to support their efforts to save lives and protect health during these dangerous wildfires,” said Secretary Azar.
Since wildfires burned more than a million acres in the state, air quality has been at dangerous and unhealthy levels.
Smoke could present major health problems for people with asthma and other lung conditions.
“Oregon currently has the worst air quality in the world,” said Representative Kurt Schrader. “Smoke from the west coast fires has traveled to the east coast and parts of Europe.”
About 10% of emergency room visits across Oregon are for asthma-like symptoms, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
The smoke has also led to the closure of schools across the state. Public buildings have been closed.
Public health officials urge people to stay indoors and make sure the air is not made worse.