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Officials say Oregon's weekly case count has "plateaued"

by Sara Cline
| August 7, 2020 3:03 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's weekly case count has plateaued following statewide COVID-19 restrictions implemented during the last two months, health officials said Friday.

But authorities urged Oregonians to continue to follow current mandates, including wearing a mask and avoiding large social gatherings, or else the virus could “spread beyond control.”

“The predicted resurgence in cases following reopening has stabilized, but there are warning signs that tell us that cases can spike again," Dean Sidelinger, the state’s epidemiologist, said during a news conference with Gov. Kate Brown.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 423 new coronavirus cases Friday, increasing the state's total case count to more than 20,600. In addition, there were nine new COVID-19 related deaths. The state's death toll is 348.

In addition, on Monday the state reported one of its highest weekly coronavirus testing positivity rates —- 6.1 percent.

“We are doing better than many other states,” Sidelinger said. “COVID-19 is continuing to spread in our communities though. We cannot let our guard down."

Based on new projections by the Oregon Health Authority, at the current transmission rate, in the next few weeks there will be approximately 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day — not all would be known by the health authority.

Sidelinger said modeling and data indicates that transmission has slowed in the state. It is predicted that for every person who has coronavirus in Oregon, they infect one other person.

Sidelinger said while the the transmission rate and current projections are good news, health experts would still rather see a downturn in cases rather than a plateau.

Officials have attributed a portion of the plateau in cases to statewide COVID-19 mandates implemented by Gov. Brown during the last two months.

“I see this data as a sign of progress and an indication that our approach is taking us in the right direction,” Brown said.

Statewide mandates include people being required to wear masks in indoor public places and outside where they can not maintain the proper physical distance, decreasing venue capacity limits and banning indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people.

“Our strategies are working, as long as we keep using them,” Brown said.

The governor said the state is also preparing mask guidelines for indoor office settings and discussing possible travel restrictions.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.


Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.