PORTLAND, Ore. — Following an announcement on Wednesday that some Oregon counties seeing a sustained rise in coronavirus cases will have to require face coverings in public indoor spaces, Governor Kate Brown convened a press conference to field questions on Thursday morning.
Brown's Wednesday announcement included the face mask requirement for seven northwestern counties, but also gave Multnomah County the green light to finally enter Phase I. Counties comprising the Portland and Salem metro areas will also have a new regional requirement in order to move into further phases.
According to an Oregon Health Authority status report published alongside Brown's announcement, the agency has not seen "significant increases in emergency department visits for COVID-19-like infections" in spite of the recent outbreaks.
As of Thursday morning, OHA listed 929 COVID-19 hospitalizations — about 15 percent of cases — and 183 deaths since the pandemic began, out of 6,218 total cases.
Brown said that the rising case counts remained "very concerning" in spite of the manageable number of hospitalizations since reopening began.
Most cases indentified in the state over the past several weeks have been tied to four major sources, officials said — workplace outbreaks, congregate care, social gatherings, and community spread. The last example has been most concerning, as it often resists contact tracing efforts, confounding public health officials' attempts to identify and quarantine all cases linked to an outbreak.