PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon saw a new single-day high for coronavirus cases on Friday, with the Oregon Health Authority reporting 600 new confirmed and presumptive cases.
The new cases brought Oregon's total since the start of the pandemic to 44,389. The state also reported two new deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the state total to 675.
Governor Kate Brown and officials from Oregon's health and education agencies anounced on Friday morning that COVID-19 metrics for schools around the state will be loosened, allowing roughly 130,000 students to resume in-person learning.
OHA officials warned two weeks ago that the coronavirus was "again on the march in Oregon" — saying that, at current rates of transmission, infections would rise to roughly 570 new cases per day, along with 40 hospitalizations daily.
The state's daily reports do not generally include regular data on hospitalizations. The latest data on OHA's website lists 211 patients hospitalized in the state with suspected or confirmed cases of the virus — 61 in intensive care, and 23 on ventilators.
Test positivity rates — the ratio of positive tests out of total tests performed — have continued to climb over the past few weeks, reaching a preliminary rate of 7.4 percent this week after hitting 6.6 percent the week prior. There has not been a substantive change in the number of tests performed.
The newly reported cases were in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (1), Clackamas (45), Clatsop (3), Columbia (4), Coos (2), Crook (3), Deschutes (24), Douglas (4), Gilliam (1), Harney (2). Hood River (3), Jackson (69), Jefferson (2), Josephine (3), Klamath (9), Lake (4), Lane (34), Lincoln (1), Linn (18), Malheur (18), Marion (44), Morrow (3), Multnomah (152), Polk (7), Sherman (2), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (26), Union (3), Wallowa (2), Wasco (3), Washington (91), Yamhill (13).
OHA gave the following information about the latest fatalities:
- Oregon’s 674th COVID-19 death is a 95-year-old woman in Linn County who tested positive on Oct. 26 and died on Oct. 29 at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
- Oregon’s 675th COVID-19 death is an 83-year-old woman in Multnomah County who tested positive on Oct. 12 and died on Oct. 25 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.
State health officials also released new infection modeling data on Friday, admitting that the models were based on case rates through October 22, which do not include the recent spikes.
"[The models show] that COVID-19 is continuing to spread but if transmission continues at its current rate, daily cases would increase only slightly," OHA said on the data.
OHA's models generally examine three scenarios — one optimistic, one more pragmatic, and a pessimistic scenario.
The most optimistic model assumes a drop in transmission to mid-August levels. That would result in 230 reported cases and a steep drop in daily hospitalizations due to COVID, signaling "considerably slower" community spread.
The more pragmatic, middle-of-the-road scenario assumes that if transmission continues at its current level into late November, new daily cases would increase from around 340 to 380 and new daily hospitalizations would number about 22.
The pessimistic scenario assumes a 5 percentage point increase in transmission — which would drive daily cases upward to about 520, with a steep increase in people who are hospitalized daily due to the virus, indicating "vastly accelerated spread."
Based on the case rates seen since October 22, it's probable that the "pessimistic" scenario may already be a reality.