PORTLAND, Ore. — Social distancing is working. According to new projections released by the Oregon COVID-19 Joint Information Center, the "aggressive" social distancing within Oregon has prevented nearly 18,000 coronavirus cases.
The researchers said that were it not for social distancing, "[Oregon] health care systems would likely have become overburdened by late April in the absence of these sustained interventions to keep the number of infections under control.”
This announcement doesn't mean, however, that social distancing can stop. Researchers say that the current restrictions need to continue into May in order to prevent a surge.
Right now, most of Oregon's hospitals are operating below capacity but could become overwhelmed if the current measures were loosened. The report stated that "under current social distancing conditions, the total cumulative infections with COVID-19 in Oregon on May 18 would be fewer than 20,000." It goes on to say that if social distancing measures were relaxed, the number of cases could jump to 60,000 in that same timeframe.
The peak of active infections has not happened in Oregon yet, according to the Oregon COVID-19 JIC. That is expected around mid-May. As of Saturday, the projections have the peak to be around 2,000 cases a day in mid-May and then those numbers slowly lowering. But, again, if social distancing measures were relaxed, that number could jump to over 17,000 cases a day.
“Staying at home and maintaining physical distancing is difficult and has had serious economic impacts that have affected many people, but the data continue to show that Oregonians are saving lives by staying home," said Dr. Dean Sideliner, state health officer at Oregon Health Authority.
The model numbers were put together by the Institute for Disease Modeling in Washington.