By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Coronavirus case numbers have spiked in Deschutes County following the Labor Day holiday.
The increase in confirmed cases doesn’t prevent Kindergarten through 3rd graders from attending in person, but it will delay higher grades from returning for a month or more.
Deschutes County reported 46 new cases of COVID over the last week, confirming some fears that people who traveled over the Labor Day holiday might spread the virus.
“We’ve seen a spike in the number of COVID cases,” said Morgan Emerson, Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “A lot of them are tied to Labor Day weekend and travel, as well as workplace exposures.”
Whether it was residents going out of town, coming back and bringing the virus with them, or locals hosting visitors from other areas who brought COVID along for the ride, the results are worrying to health officials.
“There’s no way to predict what’s going to happen but after other holidays like Mother’s Day and 4th of July, we’ve seen an increase in cases a few weeks after and we saw that again with Labor Day. It’s really important that people continue to take precautions, even over holiday weekends,” Emerson said.
The 46 new cases reported in Deschutes County last week is more than double the week before but still below the threshold to allow children in grades K-3 back into the classroom.
However, the spike in COVID cases in Deschutes County is far beyond allowing all students to return for in-person classes.
For that to happen, the county must record 3 consecutive weeks with 20 or fewer cases.
And after a six-week trend of declining cases in July and August, the numbers this month are heading back up.
“It’s not what we were hoping for. It’s still important to continue wearing our masks, physical distancing and taking those precautionary measures because we can get our numbers back down,” Emerson said. “We’ve done it time and again and we really need to keep those numbers down.”
Emerson said when people travel, they have a lot more contact with different people, whether that’s in an airport, gas station or going out to eat.