Coronavirus diagnoses continued to surge Sunday in Oregon, with health officials reporting 247 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. That brings the state’s total to 8,341 known cases.
The bulk of Sunday’s new diagnoses were in the Portland metro area, with 52 cases in Multnomah County, 29 in Washington County and 18 in Clackamas County. Additionally, 48 new cases were reported in Umatilla County and 43 in Marion County.
Though infections continue to climb, the death rate remains steady. The Oregon Health Authority reported no new deaths Sunday, leaving the state’s total at 202 deaths.
As of Friday, 149 people are hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 35 who are on ventilators. The coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 1,022 people in Oregon over the course of the pandemic.
Clatsop County to require masks July 1, Manzanita asks to join
People are required to wear masks in Clatsop County starting Wednesday, The Daily Astorian reports.
Clatsop County commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday night to opt in to the mask requirement Oregon Gov. Kate Brown imposed for seven Oregon counties. The governor approved the request on Friday.
The governor’s order mandates masks in most indoor businesses and public spaces, including bars and restaurants.
The requirement took effect on Wednesday for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion and Polk counties.
Clatsop County Chair Kathleen Sullivan said wearing a mask in public is a small inconvenience that can help protect everyone.
"I take this pandemic very seriously and so I wear a mask because I want to protect the people around me," she said. "I don't want to be a part of the problem."
Sullivan said the county is continuing to work on the education piece of the mask requirement. She hopes wearing a mask in public can become part of people's everyday routine.
The mayor of Manzanita, a coastal town in Tillamook County, submitted a formal request to Brown Saturday asking the city be added to the list of communities subject to the mask-wearing order.
Scott said Manzanita is a popular vacation destination, attracting a large number of people during the summer months. He fears for the safety of the town’s elderly population.
“Since Manzanita is the permanent home to many vulnerable retired citizens that both fear for their health and the health of others, we believe in masks, we wear masks, and we encourage all who visit to wear masks. Please help us continue that effort,” the letter reads.
Northwest grocers call on public to wear masks
In a press release Saturday, the Northwest Grocery Association issued a call to the public to wear masks or face coverings when in a place of business, especially at grocery stores.
“While what we know about this virus continues to change, today we know for certain that social distancing and face masks (or coverings) are our most powerful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but your grocery stores and retailers can’t do it alone,” Amanda Dalton, legislative director for the Northwest Grocery Association, said in a statement.
Brown's order that residents in seven Oregon counties should wear masks within indoor public spaces took effect last Wednesday. Clatsop County will join the order on July 1. People with a medical condition that makes it difficult to breathe are exempt from wearing masks; children under the age of 12 are also exempt.
The NWGA also cited concerns for the safety of grocery store employees and customers following reports of aggressive shoppers who refuse to wear a mask.
“These escalating incidents have presented new workplace safety issues as grocery workers interact daily with a weary and at times frustrated public. ... Stores are balancing the various responsibilities of protecting the health safety of everyone in the stores, and now trying to prevent volatile confrontations that could cause physical safety concerns for employees and customers in the store,” the statement said.
While grocers are seeking clarity on the legality of declining service to unmasked shoppers, and whether they can ask about an individual’s medical information, Dalton said grocery stores are relying on the public to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Umatilla County churches respond to Union County outbreak
Some Umatilla County churches have reexamined their church service protocols following the state's single largest coronavirus outbreak, at a Union County church.
The East Oregonian reports that following the outbreak, churches in Umatilla County are wrestling with staying open.
“As we’ve seen cases go up, there have been conversations among our staff,” said Hermiston Assembly Associate Pastor Alex Valle-Lopez. “We are thinking of closing as a preventative measure.”
The church has been able to section off pews and limit the number of families in the building in accordance with social distancing guidelines, but Valle-Lopez is unsure if it will remain open.
First Christian Church is among churches that have either delayed reopening plans or remain closed in response to the Union County outbreak. Loretta Hampton, moderator for the church, said they do not want to put their members at risk.
“We have a number of older members and feel that church is a lifelong habit,” she said. “They would come if we open, and it would not necessarily be safe.”
There are no set plans for reopening at this time.
Health officials report Union County has 309 COVID-19 diagnoses as of Saturday. The bulk of those cases are from an outbreak linked with Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Island City, just east of La Grande. A since-deleted video from the church’s Facebook page showed members worshiping in close proximity to one another.
Read The East Oregonian's full story here.
New Oregon COVID-19 Cases By ZIP Code
This map shows new cases of COVID-19 in each ZIP code in Oregon. ZIP codes are colored by the number of cases per 10,000 residents. "New" cases includes cases between June 15 and June 21; "All" cases are the number of cases recorded by OHA as of June 15. ZIPs are shaded to show contrast; rates in Oregon remain lower than most of the U.S.
Jacob Fenton, The Accountability Project at the Investigative Reporting Workshop Sources: OHA's current and prior weekly reports. OHA does not report case counts in smaller ZIP codes, and doesn't provide an exact figure for ZIP codes where fewer than 10 cases have been recorded. ZIP codes are shaded by the lowest possible rate in the new cases view. ZIP code populations and outlines are from Esri's "Updated Demographics 2019" so rates differ from those published by OHA.
Washington at more than 30,000 cases
Health officials in Clark County, Washington, reported 17 new coronavirus cases Friday. That brings the county’s total to 758. Public health officials did not report any additional deaths, with the total holding at 29.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a mandatory mask order Tuesday in response to increasing case counts and the potential to overwhelm the state’s health care system. All Washingtonians are required to wear face masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces.
According to the latest available data, Washington has 31,404 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,310 known deaths. As of Sunday, coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 4,240 people in Washington.