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Multnomah County Fails To Qualify For Reopening

<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>

There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

UPDATE (7:36 p.m. PT) — Multnomah County will not reopen Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced late Thursday. The county failed to meet the criteria for entering Phase 1 of Oregon's coronavirus reopening plan.

The governor will, in fact, pause all county applications to reopen or advance to Phase 2 for a week following a spike in cases, she said in a written statement. The Oregon Health Authority on Thursday confirmed the most cases of COVID-19 in a single day since the start of the pandemic, reporting 178 confirmed or presumptive cases.

"Think of it as a statewide 'yellow light,'" the governor wrote. She said the state will reevaluate whether to resume applications after one week.

Marion, Polk and Hood River counties will not enter Phase 2.

Oregon reports largest daily caseload

The Oregon Health Authority reported 178 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday. That is the largest number of new cases in one day since the beginning of the pandemic.

The state’s total number of known positive and presumptive cases is 5,237.

The bulk of the new cases come from the Portland metro area — 47 in Clackamas County and 43 in Multnomah County. The Salem area also has a significant number of cases with 34 reported in Marion County.

Officials also announced two new coronavirus-related deaths. In Oregon, 171 people are known to have died from the disease.

The health authority details the new deaths as:

An 84-year-old woman in Clackamas County who tested positive June 6 and died on June 9. The location of her death is unknown at this time. She had underlying medical conditions. 

A 66-year-old man in Yamhill County who tested positive on June 3 and died on June 10 at Willamette Valley Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.

Clark County cases at 622

Clark County reported 16 new coronavirus cases Thursday. That puts the county’s total number of known cases at 622.

To date, 28 people have died from COVID-19 in Clark County. 

According to the most recently available data, Washington has 24,642 confirmed coronavirus cases. The state has seen 1,190 coronavirus-related deaths.

Multnomah County’s reopening progress

Multnomah County is making progress toward meeting requirements to start reopening, officials said Wednesday, but they also acknowledged some areas where it’s falling short.

Multnomah County Public Health Director Rachael Banks told county commissioners during a board meeting that there are enough available hospital beds to handle an increase in cases. But concerningly, hospitalizations started to increase on May 31, which is the last day they currently have data for.

“We expected to see an increase in cases,” Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county area, told the commissioners.

“The whole premise of reopening was built on the idea that people would be mixing, and we’d need more testing and contact tracing.”

That increase in bed use and transmission is not due to recent protests, Vines said. The data isn’t recent enough to reflect that. Instead, she speculated that nearby counties re-opening could cause cases to increase in Portland.

It’s also important to note where in Portland COVID-19 is spreading. Since April, the number of infections in white people has declined.

“It’s particularly striking if you know the demographics of Portland,” said Kim Toevs, who leads the county’s infectious disease team. Depending on the metric, about 70% of Multnomah County is white. But only 16% of new cases on May 31 were white And while access to testing has improved across the board, communities of color still have less access to testing.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

OPB Staff