By SCOTT ELNES
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Deschutes County is seeing COVID-19 infection rates rising to near-record levels lately, and the data says it’s mainly coming from social interactions among youth that are becoming superspreader events.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of young adults acquiring COVID-19,” says Morgan Emerson, preparedness coordinator for Deschutes County Health Services. “Especially in that 16 to 29 age category and a lot of those are due to social gatherings. So things like parties, barbecues, people aren’t taking proper precautions and then also some workplace exposures as well.”
Nahad Sadr-Azodi, the Deputy Director of Public Health, says a small group of people are doing the lion share of the transmission.
“What we are learning is that this virus doesn’t necessarily jump from one person to another in a linear fashion instead it is spreading more in a cluster way where about 80% of the cases are generally caused or stem from around 20% of the people,” he said.
These superspreader events have even shut down some businesses due to sick employees leaving them short-staffed.
But they are also partially responsible for our kids not being able to go back to school.
Emerson points out that we’ve cleared the metrics before, so we just need to be a bit more vigilance to head us back in that same direction.
“Currently we’re exceeding the metrics both for K through three and for all grades as well,” she said. “But we saw these levels back in July as well, and our community worked really hard to get our numbers down and we certainly believe that our community can do that again.”
The data does show that Deschutes county can meet the metrics to get back to in-person learning.
But the data also shows that meeting those metrics is up to personal choices and behaviors like masks, continued social distancing, washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick.