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New COVID modeling shows 'concerning trend' in Oregon

The recent spread of COVID-19 cases in Oregon points to a “potentially steep upward trend,” the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday.

“Cases are rising at a rate so high, that even a 10% reduction in cases would not slow the rise in cases,” an OHA news release said. “The bottom line is that the disease is spreading more rapidly than expected, and since reopening, Oregonians have not consistently modeled the behavior needed to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

The agency’s three most recent modeling scenarios all point to a continued rise in cases.

The first assumes transmission rates stay the same as they are now, with daily COVID-19 cases rising to anywhere from 1,100 to 3,600, and daily hospitalizations rising from 17 to 49, according to the Oregon Capital Bureau. The second scenario assumes a 10 percentage point decrease over the next 30 days, which would result in daily infection numbers rising to 1,600 and daily hospitalizations rising to 24. The third model assumes a 10 percentage point increase continuing over the next 30 days. That would result in 7,300 new cases and 76 new hospitalizations each day by month’s end.

Social gatherings and meetups have been key drivers of the recent case increases, OHA officials said, with outbreaks linked to bachelor and fraternity parties, and to exercise classes. Health officials urged Oregonians to limit the size of gatherings, wear a mask, observe physical distancing and “find alternative ways for those who are vulnerable to participate.”

“In any scenario, Oregonians must do more to flatten the curve of COVID-19 by taking the recommendations of health authorities,” the release said. “Limit the size of gatherings; maintain six feet of physical distance between people; wear a face mask; practice good hand hygiene and stay home if you are sick.”

State health officials reported 275 more cases of COVID-19 Friday, raising the number of statewide cases to 11,454. Two more Oregonians died, raising the death toll to 232.

Umatilla County had the most new cases Friday with 51. Public health officials in that county said the recent surge in cases was due to residents infected with the illness spreading it in the workplace.

“It is imperative that anyone presenting symptoms of respiratory disease stay at home.” The county continues to discover cases where people continued to work while they were sick, an agency Facebook post said.

Washington County had 44 cases Friday, while Multnomah County had 37, OHA said.

Jackson County Public Health reported nine new cases, bringing the county’s total to 173. Of those, 73 are considered infectious, according to the public health website.

The new cases were attributed to household contact with infected family members, travel, and workplace spread, county Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames said.

“It is possible we’ll continue to see the same pattern with new businesses and new families,” he said.