Live Updates: More Calls For Masks, As Coronavirus Caseload Climbs

Jun 29, 2020
Originally published on June 29, 2020 2:49 pm

UPDATE (2:49 p.m. PT) – Oregon has seen more than 900 new cases of COVID-19 since Thursday — the largest four-day statewide increase since the pandemic began. The bump in cases comes as all but four counties have entered Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. 

In response, Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday that Oregonians will be required to wear masks in indoor public places statewide beginning Wednesday. The mask requirements had previously only applied to seven counties in the northwest part of the state.   

“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” said Brown in a press release. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.”

While the Portland metro counties continue to add new cases at a relatively steady clip, several rural counties in the state have seen significant case bumps.

About 15% of the total cases over the past four days have been reported in Umatilla County. Recent cases in the county have been attributed to an outbreak at a food processing plant near Hermiston.   

In Malheur County, case numbers have nearly doubled in the past week to 101. Health officials did not return an interview request, but the Malheur Enterprise reported that as of Sunday, the cases have yet to be traced back to a common source. This could indicate that the COVID-19 is spreading more generally throughout the population. 

COVID cases in Malheur County have skewed young. The county health department shows that about half the people infected are under the age of 29. 

The fallout from the outbreak at Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Union County appears to be continuing. Case numbers there have been steadily rising since the outbreak spike earlier this month, with nearly 100 new cases added. 

Morrow and Lane counties are seeing higher-than-previous increases in case numbers as well.

While case numbers are an easily-to-follow metric, it is not the only statistic that public health officials are tracking to understand the severity of the situation. Officials are also watching COVID hospitalizations, ER visits by people with COVID-like symptoms, test positivity rate, contact tracing capacity, and the ratio of cases that can be traced back to a known transmission source to those that cannot.  

Cases continue to rise

Coronavirus cases continue to climb in Oregon, with health officials reporting 146 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. That brings the state’s total to 8,485 known cases.

The bulk of Monday’s new diagnoses were in the Portland metro area, with 29 cases in Multnomah County, 27 in Washington County and 18 in Clackamas County.

The Oregon Health Authority reported two new deaths as well, leaving the state’s total at 204 deaths. Health officials detailed the latest deaths as 

An 84-year-old woman in Marion County who tested positive June 18 and died Saturday. Officials said her place of death is being confirmed. She had underlying medical conditions.

A 72-year-old man in Marion County who tested positive June 17 and died Saturday. Officials said his place of death is being confirmed. He had underlying medical conditions.

As of Monday, 151 people are hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 25 who are on ventilators. The coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 1,025 people statewide over the course of the pandemic — more than 12% of all confirmed cases in Oregon.

Northwest grocers call on public to wear masks

Over the weekend, 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.

Gov. Kate 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.

Manzanita mayor asks to be part of state's mask order

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.

Washington's mask order in effect in all public spaces

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a mandatory mask order last week 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.

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.

Cowlitz County reports eight new cases

As of Friday, 74 cases had recovered and one Cowlitz patient was hospitalized outside the county. According to the latest available data from the Washington Department of Health, 19 county residents have been hospitalized from the disease.

Cowlitz County has reported no virus-related deaths. In the last 14 days, the county recorded 52 cases per 100,000 people — more than double the state’s goal of 25 per 100,000.

Cowlitz County is just north of Clark County in Southwest Washington. 

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.

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