PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March in Oregon, a total of 32,314 confirmed/presumptive cases have been recorded. But no single day has had as many — 457 — as the Friday report from the Oregon Health Authority.
Another 3 people died from COVID-19, officials said, bringing the death toll to 542.
The new cases were recorded in 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties, and includes 73 cases in Clatsop County. Authorities said a total of 79 cases has been reported in an outbreak at Pacific Seafood in the county. Other counties had high daily counts: Multnomah 62, Marion 58, Washington 51, Lane 50, Clackamas 33.
When asked what caused the relatively sudden increase, officials pinpointed a few activities, including Labor Day gatherings.
“We continue to see cases where seemingly innocuous activities, that we would not have thought about twice in the past, are fueling outbreaks,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer. “We had a report of a group of employees at a local company who had a Labor Day party and now six of those employees are positive.”
Additionally, one county had 13 cases associated with four university outbreaks, including a Greek house and three athletic teams. A different county had 22 cases associated with three university outbreaks, including two Greek houses and a large back-to-school party.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint. We cannot let the virus regain momentum, we cannot let up in our collective efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen.
The Director of OHA’s Diversity and Inclusion Office, Leann Johnson, also announced that $45 million in grants will be given to organizations that support minorities and communities of color. Officials say those groups are disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“We have organizations and tribal governments that help provide thermometers, personal protective items, and address technology needs to improve access to telehealth,” said Johnson. “One organization we work with, serving the Latino, Latinx communities, learned that people in their community did not have thermometers or face masks, and, at the time face masks were both expensive and hard to find especially without access to the internet.”
The other counties recording cases on Friday are: Benton (11), Columbia (7), Coos (3), Deschutes (17), Jackson (14), Jefferson (4), Josephine (2), Klamath (1), Lake (3), Lincoln (2), Linn (12), Malheur (20), Morrow (4), Polk (8), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (9), Union (4), Wasco (3) and Yamhill (5).
Three men who lived in Lane, Multnomah and Jackson counties were the latest to succumb to the coronavirus. Two were 76 years old, the other was 85. Two had underlying conditions.
Safe + Strong Helpline launches
In partnership with Lines for Life, OHA has launched the Safe + Strong Helpline: 800-923-4357. Callers can access around-the-clock emotional support, mental health triage, drug and alcohol counseling, as well as find additional resources.
Pacific Seafood outbreak
The investigation into the outbreak at Pacific Seafood began September 15, “but the initial case count was below the threshold for public disclosure.” The 79 cases “includes all persons linked to the outbreak, which may include household members and other close contacts to an employee,” officials said.
The 457 new cases comes one day after 382 cases were reported, which the OHA said was the highest since mid-July.
Lincoln County moves forward
Later Friday, the office of Governor Kate Brown announced that Lincoln County’s application to move into Phase 2 of reopening has been approved. The new status will be effective starting Tuesday, September 29.
Lincoln County first applied for Phase 2 in late August. After ensure that the county’s COVID-19 metrics had stabilized, health officials gave the green light nearly a month later.
“The people of Lincoln County and county leadership should be commended for pulling together after the COVID-19 workplace outbreak they experienced in June,” said Governor Brown in a statement. “They are an example of what we can all accomplish by working together to contain this disease.”
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