The Oregon Health Authority announced 457 new confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases and three new deaths on Friday, the highest single-day reported case count since the first person tested positive for the virus in February.
Cases have been trending upward all week and were boosted Friday by an outbreak of 79 infections at Pacific Seafood in Clatsop County. The public health agency said the outbreak was first detected Sept. 15 but did not meet the threshold for public disclosure.
On Friday, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state health officer and epidemiologist, said the uptick was also likely exacerbated by wildfires, which forced thousands to leave their homes and come in close proximity to each other, college students returning to campuses and gatherings where people may be tempted to disregard social distancing measures. Sidelinger also noted that Oregon had its first case of the flu this week, which could further complicate the response to COVID-19.
“We are concerned about these increases,” Sidelinger said, adding that people need to continue to wear masks, maintain 6 feet of distance from other people and refrain from gathering in large groups. “We’re asking every Oregonian to take steps to protect themselves.”
The last time Oregon saw a similar spike in cases in mid-summer, Gov. Kate Brown issued a statewide mask mandate. Sidelinger and other officials did not say what actions the state would take in light of the recent spike other than urging residents to continue following social distancing measures.
But Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, noted that the state is now better prepared to combat a surge in cases through the assistance of community partners. The agency on Friday announced that it had awarded about $45 million in grants to some 200 nonprofits and community groups across the state.
Hours after the news conference, Brown announced that Lincoln County had been approved to move into Phase 2 of reopening, allowing theaters, bowling alleys and other recreational facilities to reopen.
Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Malheur counties are the only in Oregon that remain in Phase 1.
Where the new cases are by county: Benton (11), Clackamas (33), Clatsop (73), Columbia (7), Coos (3), Deschutes (17), Jackson (14), Jefferson (4), Josephine (2), Klamath (1), Lake (3), Lane (50), Lincoln (2), Linn (12), Malheur (20), Marion (58), Morrow (4), Multnomah (62), Polk (8), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (9), Union (4), Wasco (3), Washington (51) and Yamhill (5).
New fatalities: Oregon’s 540th death linked to coronavirus is a 76-year-old Lane County man with underlying health conditions. He died Sept. 1, but the Oregon Health Authority did not say if or when he tested positive. The agency said that COVID-19 was listed as a cause or contributing factor of death on his death certificate. Officials were working to determine where he died.
The 541st fatality is an 85-year-old Multnomah County man with underlying medical conditions. He tested positive Sept. 15 and died Sept. 23 at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center.
The 542nd fatality is a 76-year-old Jackson County man with underlying medical conditions. He tested positive Sept. 10 and died Sept. 18 at Providence Medford Medical Center.
Not yet included in the state’s official death count is an inmate from Snake River Correctional Institution in Malheur County who died Friday after testing positive for coronavirus. He was between 65 and 75 years old, state prison officials said, and is the eighth inmate statewide to die after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
The prevalence of infections: State officials reported 426 new confirmed infections out of 12,385 people tested, equaling a 3.4% positivity rate. But the agency also said that a processing error had resulted in an additional 7,000 negative results, which had been collected over the last two months, being publicly reported in the numbers released Friday. Excluding those negative tests, the daily positivity rate would be about 7.9%.
Who got infected: New confirmed or presumed infections grew among the following age groups: 0-9 (19); 10-19 (40); 20-29 (115); 30-39 (89); 40-49 (76); 50-59 (53); 60-69 (28); 70-79 (14); 80 and older (16).
Who’s in the hospital: The state reported 139 Oregonians with confirmed coronavirus infections were currently in the hospital Friday, the same number as the previous day. Oregon remains well below its capacity, with hundreds of hospital beds and ventilators available.
Since it began: Oregon has reported 32,314 confirmed or presumed infections and 542 deaths, among the lowest totals in the nation. To date, 661,334 Oregonians have been tested.
— Kale Williams; [email protected]; 503-294-4048; @sfkale
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.