The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday reported the state’s highest daily case count since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reported 575 new cases, just five days after setting the previous record, 550, on Oct. 23.
The one-day jump included 62 cases linked to Clackamas County, 107 in Washington County and 102 in Multnomah. The news comes at the state, Portland metro region and county grapple with an unprecedented surge in instances of the novel coronavirus.
The so-called “third wave” was expected by many epidemiologists, as the colder weather, rains and shorter days depress immune systems and force most people indoors, where the virus is known to spread more easily.
The Oregon Health Authority also reported Thursday the Covid-related deaths of a 96-year-old woman in Multnomah County and a 94-year-old woman in Marion County, both of whom had underlying conditions.
Oregon’s coronavirus death toll is now at 673.
Authorities continue to blame widespread community transmission for causing small clusters and outbreaks across the state. The public is asked to stay on their guard and follow the recommended protective measures to slow the virus’ spread.
The other standard guidance remains: Keep your physical distance, avoid large gatherings and touching your face, and wash your hands frequently.
Last week, the OHA again revised its guidelines for face coverings to require Oregonians to wear masks “in all private and public workplaces including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, and workspaces unless someone is alone in an office or in a private workspace.”
OHA has also said last week that face masks are far more effective in mitigating potential infections than plastic face shields, and are preferred in all cases except for a few rare exceptions, such as when someone who is deaf or hearing-impaired needs to read lips.
Both state and county health officials are encouraging residents to skip door-to-door trick-or-treating and in-person costume parties for Halloween this weekend.
“Unfortunately we’re really recommending against it,” Dr. Sarah Present, the county’s public health officer, said in a recent PSA. “I know that it’s a fun tradition, however, it is considered a high risk for the spread of Covid-19.”
While case counts are at all-time highs, hospitalizations have increased only slightly — so far. According to the OHA, Clackamas County has seen a total of 3,206 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, and 66 deaths.
“Many outbreaks we’re seeing are in smaller gatherings of people gathering indoors without masks,” Dr. Present said. “As the weather gets colder, many people may increase this activity, and we do know we see spread there. ”
Public health officials encourage families to consider safer alternatives to celebrating Halloween this year, including watching a scary movie at home, hosting a virtual costume contest, setting up a backyard scavenger hunt — or the brand-new, drive-thru Scare Fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds.