Oregon COVID-19 cases leveling off, not dropping

Coronavirus

Gov. Brown to issue face mask guidelines for offices

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New data released by the Oregon Health Authority on Friday morning offered a glimmer of optimism about COVID-19 in the state.

“We do see the number of cases reported leveling off,” State Medical Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger said during a phone briefing with media, also attended by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

“I see this data as a sign of progress,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said. “The strategies are working as long as we keep using them,” she said.

Dr. Sidelinger stressed that the state would like to see the curve drop, not just plateau. He said hospitalizations are also leveling off and continue to report they have adequate capacity.

Sidelinger said that test positivity continues to rise and is currently at 6.2%. He warned this showed that the “virus remains prevalent across the state and is a risk to everyone.”

The state conducted 34,000 tests last week.

Sidelinger said that the current transmission rate is 1. For each person who gets infection, they infect 1 other person. He then described current modeling that shows three scenarios:

Transmission continues as is: Estimated number of new daily infections remains steady at 1,000 per day, with the number of severe cases rising from 17 to 19.

Transmission decreases by 10%: 300 new infections per day, 100 that are known to public health officials, with 9 new severe cases that need hospitalization. Reproduction number is .75. Our curve will start to come down.

Transmission increases by 10%: Reproduction number rises to 1.3, 2300 new infections across state each day by end of August.

“It is within our reach,” Sidelinger said. “We can reach a point where the virus can’t spread at a sustained rate.”

Office guidelines for face masks

Brown admitted she wished she had ordered a statewide mask requirement sooner than last month, but said the science wasn’t as clear before that masks help stop the spread. There was also the acceptance factor.

But the mask wearing may be a significant reason why the curve has flattened in Oregon in the past month. The governor now wants rules in place in offices.

A man wears a mask along the Portland waterfront during the pandemic, August 5, 2020 (KOIN)

“I think the challenge is that you have diversity of office settings and we want to make sure people remain safe regardless of the office setting,” Brown said. “But the science is becoming extremely clear on face settings at this point.”

The governor also said she is not planning on closing bars and restaurants. State inspections of more than 3600 locations show 93% compliance with spacing and mask wearing.

Brown then announced that she will soon be releasing new guidelines for face masks in indoor office settings.

Oregon Daily COVID Report

Friday’s COVID-19 report shows a total of 423 new cases and 9 new deaths.

Multnomah County had 110 confirmed/presumptive cases, leading the list of 26 Oregon counties. Umatilla and Washington counties each had 53, Marion had 47 and Malheur 21. There are now a total of 20,636 cases in Oregon since the pandemic began.

The 9 people who died were between the ages of 64 and 94 and lived in 9 different counties: Clackamas, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Malheur, Marion, Umatilla and Yamhill.

The cumulative death total in Oregon now stands at 348.

Oregon ‘Watch List’ revised

As of Thursday, Multnomah County was on the state watch list to potentially face further restrictions. As a result, Clackamas and Washington counties may also be subjected to rollbacks.

On Thursday, Governor Brown removed Lake County from the state’s Watch List for COVID case. There are currently 9 counties on the Watch List:

Baker, Hood River, Jefferson, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Umatilla, and Wasco.

In a statement, the governor said, “I want to remind all Oregonians that this disease is something that, for the time being, we must learn to live with. This means, your continued work to protect yourselves and others—wearing a face covering, watching your distance, and washing your hands—is of the utmost importance.”

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