As a record number of Oregonians have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two weeks, many wonder if it is simply due to the increase in test, or if the virus can also be spreading more rampantly.
Friday, to open the eyes of the report of the Oregon Health Authority confirmed this last: COVID-19 is to transmit at rates higher scale of the state.
The weekly from the share of Oregonians of positive tests has more than doubled since May 15, when the state began to reopening. The positive outcome of the rate test, which was 1.6% of those tested in the week of May 16-22, rose 4.1% for the week ending Friday.
Approaches to rates not seen in Oregon since mid-April.
Public health officials say they are concerned. And epidemiologists say that, although Oregon still has a relatively low rate of screening-positive and case-by-inhabitant of the disease compared to the rest of the nation, once the virus takes root, it can grow exponentially.
Oregon is pushed into the case comes at a time when at least 19 states in the U.S. are seeing an increase in cases, including California, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina and Florida. As in Oregon, all these states have upset the daily folders for new infections in the last week.
Vice-Chairman, Mike Pence has been strongly criticized at the national level by some public health officials and epidemiologists to encourage the governors call on Monday to emphasize that the increased testing is driving the higher numbers, while refusing to recognize that the increase of transmission is also an important factor in many regions.
Until two weeks ago, in Oregon, had never had a day of more than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Since then, he had 12 of those days, and two of them exceeded 200 cases. On Saturday, the state recorded 6,750 known cases and 189 people died of the disease.
Public health officials are struggling to discern how Oregonians are exposed to the virus. According to the most recent data, for the week of 8 to 14 June, contact tracers have been unable to identify the source of the infection up to 36% of new cases across the state. In the Portland area — including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, it was even worse: 48%.
The figure was 50% in the County of Deschutes, 52% in the County of Polk and 65% in Washington County, when it is distinguished from the rest of the Portland metropolitan area.
The figures indicate the community spread could be an important factor. The Oregon Health Authority had set itself the goal to keep this figure below 30%, a threshold that they said should allow them to keep the virus in check.
Hospitalizations at the state level are also increased by 82% since May 15, with 92 confirmed COVID-19 patients currently admitted. The need for hospital beds, however, is one of the last indicators of a flare-up, because it can easily take a week or two before that someone who is diagnosed deteriorates to the point of requiring hospitalization or a bed in an intensive care unit.
During a press conference Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen noted that the state still has a lot of intensive care beds and ventilators available to treat a much larger wave of patients. He said that the metro area only has 399 fans on hand.
Allen said his agency’s recommendation to continue to the reopening of the Oregon is “based on the totality of the evidence, and not on each metric on its own.” He said that his agency has said all along that the state would see more cases as it has reopened.
“The question is” Can we manage these risks? Can we return to most normal activities in a responsible manner, without triggering a flare-up of severe disease that would swamp our health system and on the top of our range of hospital beds?’” Allen said. “For the County of Multnomah and the other countries to move forward, …we believe that the answer is ‘Yes’. They can manage the risks they are facing.”
Govt. Kate Brown approved Multnomah County, the last in the state to enter Phase 1 on Friday, allowing the re-opening of the dining room in the bars and restaurants, hairdressers and nail salons, gyms and shopping centres. Gatherings of more than 25 persons, too, are OK.
Friday was the same day the Multnomah County set a record, with 49 new cases.
Its neighboring counties, too, have recently established peaks: Clackamas County has announced an unprecedented number of 47 new infections, 11 June. On Saturday, the Washington County related to its record level of 37 new cases, a number, he had also reached four days earlier.
On Friday, Brown has also given the green light for Polk, Marion and Hood River counties to enter Phase 2, which includes the reopening of cinema halls and swimming pools and generally allows gatherings of up to 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors for any purpose, as long as they remain at least 6 feet of distance. Brown has made an exception for the protests: She said that she didn’t stop the hundreds and thousands who have gathered daily to Portland, and on occasion in other communities around the state in the exercise of their freedom of speech since George Floyd died at Minneapolis police on May 25.
Brown said Thursday that she does not believe that the virus spreads significantly to businesses like restaurants and hair salons, because of the security precautions they take. But at the same time, Brown has recognized the prevalence of community spread and the significant percentage of cases in which the contact tracers have not been able to identify a source.
Brown also stressed that the virus is transmitted through outbreaks at food processing plants, long-term care, some prisons and social gatherings when people want to see their friends or family to meet them in the inside, with no masks or too close to each other. That is what happened to the Union County church, where the faithful stood shoulder-to-shoulder, to sing and to pray. More than 230 later tested positive for the virus.
As of Wednesday, Brown is demanding Oregonians in seven counties to wear masks, while in the interior public spaces, such as grocery stores. These counties are Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion and Polk.
To repeat a metaphor from his experiences of childhood frozen Minnesota ponds, she said, “The next few weeks are going to be tough. We are going to walk on the ice.”
Brown said that if the number of patients hospitalized, the spikes too fast, it will be forced to roll back the re-opening.
“Everything comes to you and it all comes down to me,” she said, recommending that residents in all counties to wear masks, stay at least 6 feet apart from each other and avoid the crowds. “Local businesses will be able to stay open if each of us doing our part. The coffee-shop, your favorite restaurant, your gym, the brewery down the street that you want, they can only stay open if you stay safe.”
— Aimee Green; [email protected]; @o_aimee
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