Oregon COVID-19 cases are scrambling to record last month’s levels. And it will soon get worse unless the state’s 4.2 million state residents immediately change their behavior, officials said.
The new modeling released on Friday shows that if delivery continues at its current rate, the number of newly identified cases – known as case counts – is expected to jump from 345 per day to 570 on November 5.
Since most cases go unnoticed, officials estimate the actual number of Oregonians infected each day is about 2,200. That was a 69% increase and one described by state health official Dr. Dean Sidelinger as “disturbing.”;
But worse, if the delivery rate increases over the next three weeks, the number of new cases reported per day could more than double to 740. That translates to 3,400 Oregonians infected each day, if their case is identified or not. Some experts say this is a very reasonable scenario because the virus is expected to spread more easily in the coming weeks due to Halloween parties, trick-or-treated and colder, wetter weather to residents who spend more time indoors.
Despite this, Oregon Health Authority officials announced no new restrictions or public safety measures on Friday. Instead, they repeat a message that they have been emphasizing for months: Hide your physical distance from others who are not members of your household. Avoid gathering in large social groups. Wear a mask. Wash your hands.
“I apologize we have no more creative message,” Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, told a virtual press conference.
He again pleaded with the Oregonians to change their individual behavior.
“As we analyze our data one trend stands out: Social savings continue to be a powerful driver of this climb,” Allen said, because too many people are not enough Careful. “… We need to find ways to socialize safely without putting family or friends at risk.”
Allen and Sidelinger refused to endorse a change in the governor’s recommendation that Oregonians could throw or gather 10 or fewer people. Both officials said advising people to avoid gathering with extended family or friends together is not sustainable or in line with human nature.
“We know there’s stress,” Sidelinger said. “People look forward to interacting with family members outside of their households and with their friends.”
Allen and Sidelinger also reiterated the state’s recommendation against personal parties on Halloween and trick-or-treated this year because of the dangers of contacting marks or even hundreds of different people in front of the door.
In contrast, some cities and states across the country have enacted a number of mandatory restrictions.
Cities from Beverly Hills, Calif. Until Springfield, Mass announced trick-or-treated bans.
Some states, including Vermont, have the lowest infection rate in the country, requiring most or all people crossing their borders to quarantine within 14 days.
California and many other states have shutter bars.
In August, more than 150 Oregon doctors signed a letter urging Governor Kate Brown to close bars and possibly restaurants in indoor dining. A few weeks later, Brown said he was considering doing so if cases continue to rise. Since then, cases have risen from the daily average of 256 newly known infections to 345.
But Friday, Allen and Sidelinger said they have no evidence that COVID-19 is spreading in bars or in the dining rooms of restaurants in Oregon. Sidelinger said officials will know if transmission to these businesses is a problem because public health investigators have asked people who have been positive to list all areas where they may have been exposed to the virus. He acknowledged, however, that they did not specifically ask if people had recently been to bars or restaurants.
In September a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that people who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to eat in a restaurant.
Sidelinger said the power to reverse Oregon’s trajectory and slow spread depends on the decisions each person makes. The modeling released on Friday outlines an optimistic scenario – that if members of the public change the dangerous behavior of COVID-19, cases could drop by almost 20% in the next three week. That means today’s average of 345 new known cases will drop to 290. And the number of total infections – including the large number of undetected – will fall to 800 residents infected on an average day.
But that can be a high order given on cool and rainy autumn days.
“This new modeling indicates that we still have a long way to go to stop the spread,” Sidelinger said. “But the Oregonians did it. And I’m confident they can do it again.”
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– Aimee Green; [email protected]; @o_aimee