Covid-19 Rates Appear to Have Stablized, State Says

The actions taken Oregonians have taken in response to the recent statewide surge of the novel coronavirus are “flattening the curve again,” according to the Oregon Health Authority’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

Dr. Sidelinger spoke with reporters on a media call Friday, in which he also shared new modeling that suggests the resurgence in new cases that health officials predicted following the state’s reopening has now stabilized. 

The state’s data shows that new cases spiked starting in May and continued through most of June — which is also the period that the Canby area saw its largest rise — but has since tapered off. 

The Canby ZIP code was linked to 11 new cases in the most recent report from OHA, which was for the week ending Sunday, Aug. 2. And though that was almost double what had been reported the previous week — it was still far below the June peaks.

Canby has now seen 175 confirmed cases — the second-highest in the county behind neighboring Oregon City’s 196. Canby’s per capita infection rate, though, is much higher because of population differences: 77.1 per 10,000 residents vs. 38.2 for Oregon City.

Canby’s infection rate is also far above that of the state as a whole (45 cases per 10,000 Oregonians), though the numbers are drawing closer each week.

Molalla reported no new cases from the previous week, and its count remained steady at 64, with an infection rate of 42.3. Wilsonville saw 17 new cases in the week ending Sunday, Aug. 2. Its total rose from 73 to 90, with an infection rate of 34.8.

That city has seen two recent workplace-related outbreaks. Thirteen cases have been tied to the Coca-Cola in Wilsonville, and another five tied to Classic Manufacturing, which makes wooden flooring, stair components and wood registers.

Both facilities are located on SW Barber Street.

According to Sidelinger, the state is now seeing about a “one-to-one” rate of transmission, where each case of creates Covid-19 creates one new case — creating a steady rate of new infections, rather than the downward trend health officials would like to see.

“Rather than just a plateau, we’d like to see our curve and our cases start to drop,” Dr. Sidelinger said.  

However, he said the data also point to warning signs that cases could spike again, and underscored the “uneasy balance” of the state’s current situation with Covid-19.

A concerning aspect of the most recent data is that more and more new cases cannot be tied to an outbreak or close contact of a known carrier. Known as “sporadic” cases, these numbers point to the virus being widely spread within the community, health officials say.

Governor Kate Brown, who was also on the press call Friday, said Oregonians must continue to follow the guidelines of social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing masks in public in order to reopen schools and keep businesses from shutting down again. 

“We are truly in this for the long haul,” she said. “I want as many schools as possible to be able to open for in-person education, at the very least for the younger grades, but we will only be able to do so when it is safe for students and for staff.”

In response to a question from a reporter, Brown admitted that she wished she had implemented widespread face covering mandates earlier in the pandemic, and also announced she will soon be releasing new guidelines for wearing face masks in indoor office settings. 

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