Oregon continues to break its own COVID-19 records, reporting 484 new confirmed and presumptive cases Thursday and 11 new deaths. It’s part of a trend that OHA deputy epidemiologist Thomas Jeanne said “reverses the progress we made in late summer.”
The state says that 59 of those cases are part of a workplace outbreak in Klamath County. The outbreak at Planasa Oregon Operations LLC started on Oct. 1, but because of testing delays, there weren’t enough cases to declare an outbreak until Thursday.
Jeanne said the continued upward trend is concerning and placed the blame on large indoor gatherings.
“We know that’s really, really high risk,” Jeanne said. “It only takes a few people who are not doing the right things to see some new illness and spread.”
An OHA survey of 1,009 Oregonians released Thursday found that over half of Oregonians surveyed reported attending no more than three gatherings of family and friends during the two weeks between Aug. 21-Sept. 11. But 16% reported attending 11 or more social gatherings.
To get an idea of the scale, if you add it all up, the top 161 people surveyed accounted for more than 1,771 small gatherings. While the least-social 514 respondents attended less than 1,543 total. That data shows that a small group of people can be responsible for a large amount of potential COVID-19 spread.
OHA director of communications Robb Cowie agreed with Jeanne’s assessment. “Social gatherings are what really stand out, in our case investigations, as driving spread,” Cowie said.
As fall starts, and there are fewer opportunities to meet with friends outside, Oregon’s COVID-19 cases are expected to keep rising. Cowie said that means it’s particularly important that Oregonians practice strict social distancing practices and follow the state’s guidelines.