Strict social distancing in Oregon has prevented 70,000 coronavirus infections, says new analysis

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Oregon’s aggressive measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus may have prevented more than 70,000 infections, including nearly 1,500 hospitalizations, according to new analysis released by state health officials on Friday.

The projections, provided by the Washington Institute for Disease Modeling, are only estimates used for planning by Oregon health officials.

Although imperfect, officials say they offer the latest evidence that Oregon has flattened the curve of its COVID-19 epidemic thanks to tough social distancing measures imposed more than a month ago.

“Our collective efforts are working,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

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The latest projections estimate that up to 8,400 Oregonians have actually contracted the coronavirus, nearly four times the 2,177 known cases reported in the state on Friday.

Limited testing capacity in Oregon and other states has created a dramatic undercoverage of coronavirus cases nationwide. Medical experts also believe that many infected people have no symptoms of the disease.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, at least 86 of known OVOC-19 COVID-19 patients have died and 520 have been hospitalized.

Here are the model’s latest findings if the state had decided not to impose a statewide home stay order, according to the Institute:

– Cumulative COVID-19 infections in Oregon reportedly reached approximately 80,000 on April 16. This is 71,600 more than the 8,400 infections estimated by the model.

– Oregon hospitalizations are estimated to have reached about 2,000 in April. 16. This represents 1,480 more hospitalizations than the 520 recorded by state health authorities.

The study authors say that by avoiding a public health disaster, Oregon is not yet ready to return to normal.

“We stress the urgent need for considerably increased testing capacity,” they wrote. “It will not be possible to relax social distancing measures and avoid an epidemic rebound without a significant increase in testing.”

State officials released new guidelines this week expanding the pool of Oregonians eligible for coronavirus testing, including those with mild symptoms and, in limited circumstances, no symptoms of the disease.

Meanwhile, Governor Kate Brown announced Friday that a Walgreens in Hillsboro will begin offering rapid driving tests for those who meet federal and state eligibility standards. Hospitals and private laboratories are also continuing to expand their testing capacity in the state.

“One step at a time, we are moving towards the day when we can begin to reopen our communities and safely return to public life,” said Brown.

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At least 595 coronavirus patients in Oregon are now fully recovered, health officials say.

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– Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632

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