OHA: Social gatherings are spreading COVID; models show daily numbers could triple

Social gatherings in Oregon are increasing the spread of COVID-19 and the disease is spreading more rapidly than expected, state health officials said Friday.

“Oregonians have not consistently modeled the behavior needed to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the Oregon Health Authority said in its daily COVID update.

Oregon health officials urged people Friday to limit indoor social gatherings to fewer than 10 people during the next three weeks as coronavirus cases in the state surge and reveal a “troubling” trend of exponential growth.

New projections by the Oregon Health Authority predict that if transmission of COVID-19 continues at the current pace, the estimated number of new daily, confirmed infections could reach anywhere from 1,100 to 3,600.

“Given these projections and the prognosis that they represent for our citizens, we are calling on Oregonians to take action, to help us bring down the spread of COVID-19 and get it under control so we can again bend the curve back down,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the Oregon Health Authority.

Since Oregon began reopening, the OHA has seen the spread of COVID-19 when people get together to celebrate with family and friends at graduations, birthdays, weddings, and holidays.

The health agency has recorded outbreaks linked to exercise classes, a frat party and a bachelor party in recent weeks.

“While it is difficult not to celebrate these events as we have in the past, COVID-19 is spreading in our communities and people must think hard about altering daily routines that may put people at risk,” the OHA said.

Oregon smashed its previous daily record for confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday with a 389 new diagnoses and six deaths.

The case count on Friday increased 275 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases statewide to 11,454. There have been at least 232 deaths.

“If we don’t see dramatic changes in our infection rates, our trends will push Oregon into a very worrying situation,” Allen said.

Even at the current rate of daily cases health officials predict that Oregon will still have exponential growth in coronavirus cases.

Locally, Deschutes County reported eight new cases to bring its total to 237.

Crook County added one case and is now at 18 while Jefferson County’s 15 new cases bring its total to 160.

St. Charles reported 11 current COVID patients; one is in the ICU and on a ventilator.

The newest modeling shows the continuation of a concerning trend of rapidly spreading COVID-19 throughout Oregon, according to the OHA.

Cases are rising at a rate so high, that even a 10 percent reduction in cases would not slow the rise in cases.

Three modeling scenarios all show rising cases.

  • The first scenario assumes transmission rates stay the same as they are now, with daily infections tripling over the next month and a similar increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the next 30 days.
  • The second scenario assumes a 10-percentage point decrease over the 30 days, slowing the growth of infection and cutting hospitalizations in half.
  • The third and final scenario assumes a 10-percentage point increase continuing over the next 30 days with a dramatic increase in daily cases and a sharp increase in hospitalizations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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