The number of known cases has increased for five straight weeks in Oregon.
PORTLAND, Ore. — As the number of people known to be infected with COVID-19 continues to rise, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is urging people to take precautions when celebrating the Fourth of July this upcoming weekend.
“We saw a lot of new COVID-19 cases after Memorial Day weekend. Another spike could put Oregon in a dangerous position of our hospitals being overwhelmed by new cases and hospitalizations within weeks,” Brown said on Monday.
The week of Memorial Day, from May 23 to May 29, there were 304 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Oregon. A month later, the number of known cases in a week has nearly quintupled. From June 20 to June 27, 1,441 people tested positive for the virus, according to the Oregon Health Authority. During that time the positive test rate has increased from 1.7% to 4.3%.
That data has Brown and health officials concerned about the spread of the virus, and is why the governor is asking people to keep their celebrations small and local. Many cities have canceled their fireworks shows that typically attract large gatherings.
The plead from Brown also came as she took another step to try and limit the spread of the coronavirus. She announced that face masks would be required in all indoor public places statewide beginning Wednesday, July 1. A mandate was previously in effect in seven Oregon counties, but Brown felt it was necessary to extend the rule across the state.
“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks,” she said.
The models Brown referenced paint a grim forecast for Oregon if the virus continues to spread. Those models showed there could be between 900 and 4,800 new infections per day over the next month, and 27 to 82 new hospitalizations per day by July 16.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s health officer, last week discussed the importance of celebrating a socially distanced Fourth of July.
“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 barbecue — 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,” Sidelinger said.