PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Health officials in Oregon are cautiously optimistic Thursday about new models that show efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases are working, including that hospitals may be able to withstand the spike.
“What we are encouraged about is that it appears we will not see a dramatic spike in cases in Oregon, that cases will rise slowly, and rise slow enough that our hospitals will be able to provide care,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon Health Authority’s health officer and epidemiologist.
“We are cautiously optimistic that cases are rising at a level that we will be able to care for people who need it most,” he said.
The news came as worldwide cases of the novel coronavirus topped 1 million, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. In Oregon, 90 new cases and two deaths were announced on Thursday, bringing the statewide total of positive cases to 826 and the death toll to 21.
Sidelinger said the positive results are dependent on a few things, like everyone continuing to listen to the Governor’s order and having enough PPE for health care providers.
He also said the Stay At Home order appears to be making a difference, even cutting down transmission by as much as 50-70%. He was hesitant to respond to any questions about how much longer the measures would need to stay in place.
“It takes some time for these interventions to have effect…the cases that OHA is reporting were likely infected three weeks ago. Measures need to be implemented over time,” he said.
Sidelinger acknowledged that for every person who tests positive, there are many more who are likely positive but not seeking care or a test because of mild symptoms.
“Our modeling does take into account that only a subset of folks are being tested,” he said.
Dr. Jennifer Vines answers questions
Earlier in the day, Multnomah County Regional Lead Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines answered questions from reporters during a video conference.
Dr. Vines said the question of whether or not everyone should be wearing masks in public is “the question of today” and “at this point we aren’t discouraging people who want to use coverage,” she said.
“We are not actively recommending it,” she said. They are waiting for the CDC to make a decision because “there is not a lot of science” about it.
As for whether Dr. Vines was feeling confident about optimistic predictions for the state, she said she is cautious.
“The state has been doing the modeling and predictions for Oregon, there’s some room for optimism…I’m taking a more cautious approach. We continue to focus our work on a surge scenario,” she said.
She said the county is continuing to stay prepared for every scenario.
“Please continue with social distancing measures,” she urged. “we don’t have a crystal ball, we don’t have all the right answers.”
“What if our modeling is wrong? It’s my job to make sure we have those plans and that we don’t look at the models and call it a day.”
“As difficult as it is, I would like to encourage people to please continue to buy ourselves more time.”