Brown concerned with rising cases in Central Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown said Monday she is concerned with the rising COVID cases in Central Oregon and is keeping an eye on parts of the area for a possible return to Phase 1.

Jefferson and Deschutes counties have reported more than 100 new cases over the last couple of weeks, a marked increase from the first part of June.

The Oregon Health Authority has reported 221 cases of COVID-19 and 134 cases in Jefferson County.

Deschutes County alone has had 75 new cases since June 22nd.

The governor last week put Jefferson County and seven others on a “watch list” due to an “alarming” spike in cases.

The seven other counties included on the list are Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wasco.

Analysis by the Oregon Health Authority showed alarmingly high per capita rates of case increases and community spread––cases where the infections are not attributable to a specific location or event, according to the governor’s office.

Counties on the watch list will be monitored in the coming days while the Oregon Health Authority and local officials deploy additional capacity to control the spread of the disease.

If the counties do not see a downturn quickly, restrictive measures such as business closures or tighter gathering size limits will ensue, Brown has said.

In an interview with Central Oregon Daily News, Brown said she’s watching three indicators to determine whether counties might need to close back up.

“The amount of community spread; if we’re seeing an increased number of cases that can’t be traced to a source, that’s very very concerning. Secondly, the hospital bed capacity in the region. Obviously, you may have heard St. Charles had their ICU full last week,” she said. “We know that they are on track to see more cases in their hospital than they saw during the April surge, so all of this is concerning. And then, obviously, infection rates.”

On Monday, St. Charles reported nine patients with COVID-19, three of whom are in the ICU and two on ventilators.

Brown said most of Oregon’s new cases trace back to either workplace exposure, congregate care like nursing homes, and social gatherings.

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