The Oregon Health Authority Friday reported 550 new cases of COVID-19. OHA also reported three new deaths. Oregon’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 649 people.
Friday’s is the largest single-day increase to date, shattering the previous single-day record of 484 new cases that occurred Oct. 8.
Since Labor Day, COVID-19 transmission in Oregon has slowly increased, breaking records that had been in place since July. In the last 30 days, Oregon has set a new daily high case count three times. There were other milestones: the most cases in one week and the first time new cases were above 400 for three consecutive days.
Make no mistake, COVID-19 cases are increasing in Oregon, but while the state’s case count has been steadily rising, Oregon has so far been spared the worst of the current wave, which has filled hospital beds in the Midwest, re-closed indoor dining in cities across America, and prompted lockdown measures in Europe. This current wave is so widespread some experts are worried about overwhelming the system. Hard-hit hospitals need extra resources and staff, but there may not be anyone free to fill them.
The increase in new cases can’t be blamed on a recent increase in available rapid tests. About the same number of Oregonians are getting tested for COVID-19 as there were during the last peak in July.
“While the number of tests has climbed, our test positive rate has remained at about 5%,” OHA senior health adviser Dr. Shimi Shareif said in a press conference Friday. “That’s too high, and that percentage tells us our raising case counts are not simply a function of increased testing.”
The high daily case number Friday also cannot be attributed to any large-scale outbreaks in any one part of the state. Shareif said that the new known cases are coming from small clusters throughout the state.
“We believe this increase is due to continued community transmission from Oregonians engaging in social gatherings, as well as household clusters,” Shareif said.
Throughout the pandemic, the Oregon Health Authority has been consistent in its message: Stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, wear masks and wash your hands.
“We need to limit the amount of time we’re with others in-person and indoors, limit the size of the groups we gather in, the smaller being the better,” Sharief said.
OHA has asked Oregonians to rethink trick-or-treating and parties this Halloween.