An outbreak of Covid-19 has been traced to a social gathering that happened in Canby approximately two weeks ago, Clackamas County officials have confirmed.
County contact tracers first became aware of the outbreak last week, but say it was not related to July Fourth and, in fact, happened before the holiday. Officials were not able to say the nature of the gathering or how many cases had been linked to it.
Clackamas County PIO Kimberly Dinwiddie-Webb said the gathering has been difficult to trace because, as is often the case, some of those who attended reside in other counties — which requires coordination with the health agencies and contact tracers in those areas.
“It is challenging to track how many cases result from social gatherings as people who attend these gatherings often reside in other counties,” she said. “This is why coordinating with other counties is so important as we track down the cases.”
Case in point, officials have also tracked four positive cases of Covid-19 to a single Canby household that attended a Fourth of July gathering — but have not been able to get the details of where the gathering took place.
Another challenge in getting timely information is that those who have it are the frontline contact tracers, who are actively investigating cases amid the largest spike the state has seen since the pandemic reached Oregon in February.
“Community spread is responsible for 40 percent of positive COVID-19 cases,” Dinwiddie-Webb told the Canby Now Podcast in an email. “So, it is not surprising that social events play a role.”
They play a surprisingly large role, according to state public health officials, who have blamed events like weddings, house parties, holiday celebrations and other indoor social gatherings for the steepest rise in new cases Oregon has seen.
The state reported more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past week than it did the entire month of May, according to the Oregon Health Authority, and has not had fewer than 100 new cases in a single day for more than a month.
The daily average over the past week has been 326, including a record 409 Saturday.
Saying the state was at risk of Covid-19 getting out of control and she was “sounding the alarm,” Governor Kate Brown on Monday expanded her earlier mandate to require face coverings at outdoor gatherings where six feet of distancing can’t be maintained, and prohibited indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people.
She did not place further restrictions on bars, restaurants or other businesses, though she acknowledged “nothing is off the table.”
Despite most bars and restaurants, even at half-occupancy, regularly entertaining far more than 10 people indoors, officials say the strict guidelines that are in place for these establishments appear to be helping curb the spread of the virus.
Instead, they warn about the risks posed by social gatherings at private homes — where those in attendance are far less likely to wear face masks or observe social distancing among close family and friends.
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