Oregon Health Authority – Coronavirus Update

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COVID-19 cases are surging in Oregon. How can we all work together to bend the curve back downward?

Today OHA released new modeling that shows a considerable rise in COVID-19 in Oregon. The latest model by OHA and the Institute for Disease Modeling is based on data through June 18. It offers three projections – optimistic, moderate and pessimistic – predicting that daily case levels could rise as much as 20 percentage points. The entire report can be found here.

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New modeling of the COVID-19 virus shows that COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly in Oregon, according to the latest model released today by the Oregon Health Authority and the Institute for Disease Modeling.

The model, which is based on data through June 18, offers three projections — optimistic, moderate and pessimistic — predicting that daily case levels could rise as much as 20 percentage points.

The modeling assumes that hospitalizations from COVID-19 remain stable and testing remains at its present level of approximately 4,000 a day:

  • The optimistic scenario with those assumptions suggests the previous modeling increase of June 11 was the result of higher testing and that case counts would remain stable at about 180 per day over the next month. This is the least likely scenario to occur because it assumes diagnosis of all new cases and presently about one-third of new infections cannot be traced to a known source.
  • The moderate scenario suggests the rise in cases in the last modeling report was due to increased transmission and expanded testing — and that daily infections of COVID-19 could rise over the next month to more than 900 per day, with daily hospitalizations rising from 8 to 27.
  • The most pessimistic scenario suggests the rise in cases in the last modeling report was due entirely to increased transmission and not expanded testing — and that infections could rise to more than 4,800, and hospitalizations could increase to 82 per day.

“We know that COVID-19 is in our communities,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, Oregon state health officer. “This latest model provides us with a sobering reminder that we all need to guard against continued spread, especially as we continue to reopen and the weather gets warmer.”

Dr. Sidelinger said, “Think hard about your choice of activities, especially as we get close to the Fourth of July holiday. Ask yourself: how can I reduce my risk and the risk I might pose to people around me?” Do what you can to suppress the virus: Stay 6 feet away from other people. Wear a mask. Avoid large gatherings, and if you are in a group setting — like a holiday barbeque — stay outside, keep your distance and use a face covering when you’re not eating. Wash your hands frequently and stay home if you’re sick.

OHA uses this modeling for data analysis and planning purposes and releases it on a bi-weekly basis. The entire report can be found here.

Note: Dr. Dean Sidelinger will hold OHA’s regular weekly media briefing today at 11 a.m. To participate, media are invited to call 844-867-6163, participant code: 593699.

What we’re learning

Oregonians are at greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 than they have been since before Governor Kate Brown issued the first stay-at-home orders. Our latest projections show we are most likely heading toward the worst-case scenario we projected last week – approximately 900 new infections per day by the end of July.

COVID-19 cases have increased each week for four straight weeks statewide, and it is spreading faster in the community. While large workplace outbreaks have driven increased cases in recent weeks, sporadic cases (those with no clear link to another case) account for a growing percentage of new cases.

The severity of illness among new cases of COVID-19 is lower than it was early in the outbreak. Despite the increase in cases in the past four weeks, the number of hospitalizations and deaths remain well below their peaks. Emergency department visits due to symptoms of the disease are still below 1 percent.

More younger people are contracting COVID-19. The median age of people with newly diagnosed COVID-19 infection is declining as more cases are being diagnosed in people younger than 50 years of age.

Oregon’s health care system has not been overtaxed by COVID-19 cases – yet. However, hospital capacity could be overwhelmed this summer if cases continue to surge.

Each of us can take action to slow the spread of COVID-19

Cases will slow – and Oregon will remain open – if we take the safe, simple steps to prevent the virus from spreading. Cases will continue to surge if we ignore health and safety precautions.

Steps you can take:

  • Avoid gatherings – and rethink your Fourth of July plans: Think hard about getting together with people outside your household. In Oregon, cases accelerated after Memorial Day. We don’t want the same thing to happen over the coming holiday.
  • Stay 6 feet apart: If you do host or attend a gathering – or go to your local restaurant or bar – stay 6 feet apart. We’ve all been cooped up for a long time. We want to see friends and family again. If you do socialize, do it safely – maintain physical distancing.
    • Limit the number of people at the barbecue or picnic.
    • Make sure people can stay far enough apart.
    • Interact outside as much as possible.
  • Wear a mask or face covering: Cover your face when you are in public. Masks and face coverings protect the people around you. You may feel great, but we know that people who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic can spread coronavirus. Don’t put the people you know and love at risk.
  • Stay home if you’re sick: If you develop a fever, have a cough, start to experience shortness of breath or any other symptoms, stay home. Don’t expose other people.
  • Answer the call: If you get a call from a contact tracer to let you know that you may have been exposed, take their advice and stay home for the entire time they recommend. This is a tried and true way to halt the spread, and we need people to answer these calls.

The bottom line is that COVID-19 is circulating more widely in Oregon. Oregon can stay safe if we all do our part to keep COVID-19 under control. If we don’t, our latest projections tell us we risk letting the virus spread fast across our state.

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