PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As doctors leading the nation’s coronavirus response brace for a tough week ahead, efforts to “flatten the curve” may be working. While it’s too soon to say for sure, doctors handling Oregon’s COVID-19 response say the situation appears to be leveling out to some extent.

Those same health leaders said they are not ready for the “stay home” order to be changed yet — but they do believe it’s making a difference.

Overall, more COVID-19 testing in Oregon means more positive tests for the virus are being discovered. However, state health leaders say models have been showing the curve could be flattening. A deputy state health officer said we may start to see a decline in cases sometime soon.

Oregon Health Authority – interactive data dashboard on COVID-19

“Our best estimates based on some modeling studies are that we may actually be closer to the peak than many other states,” said Dr. Tom Jeanne of the Oregon Health Authority. “We may start to see a decline in cases very soon.”

Is Oregon flattening the curve of the coronavirus?
MultCo positives: High rates of underlying conditions

The situation in Oregon is less dire right now than some other states because Oregon acted early to close schools, shut down businesses and issued a “stay home” order.

“The earlier you can take preventive measures, that pays off real dividends down the road, and we are seeing that in Oregon,” Dr. Jeanne said.

Dr. Tom Jeanne of the Oregon Health Authority, April 6, 2020 (KOIN)

Health leaders caution there needs to be more testing capacity to track people more efficiently before businesses open again. There are still many susceptible people.

Monday afternoon, Multnomah County health officials talked about the risk of COVID-19 to people with an underlying, chronic health condition.

“People with chronic disease have a higher risk of more severe illness from COVID-19 and the percentage of COVID-19 patients locally with at least one underlying health condition was higher among those requiring hospitalization and intensive care,” said Multnomah County Public Health Director Rachael Banks. “The most commonly reported underlying health conditions related to chronic disease are lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”

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Banks said that of those in Multnomah County who tested positive, 19% have an underlying lung disease. “That’s nearly 4 times higher than the general population.” Another 15% have diabetes and 13% cardiovascular disease — both of which are twice the rate of the general population.

“We can’t talk about chronic disease and Multnomah County without talking about health injustices and in the same way COVID-19 disproportionately hits people harder with underlying health conditions like chronic diseases.”

Those with underlying conditions are encourage to continue treating those conditions right now with the help of their primary care provider.

And while the weather is expected to be really nice this week, public health officials say it’s still important for everyone to stay home and save lives.