Friday Updates: Oregon Releases New Coronavirus Projections

May 29, 2020
Originally published on May 30, 2020 9:26 am

UPDATE (5:25 p.m. PT) — A new analysis released Friday by the Oregon Health Authority estimates that there may have been approximately 20,000 coronavirus cases in Oregon by May 22, when about 4,000 cases had been confirmed.  

The report, put together by the Institute for Disease Modeling, states that “the aggressive interventions in Oregon have been effective in dramatically reducing transmission rates.” #160; 

Hospitalization data also suggest that infections have declined in the state recently, though that could change as Oregon counties continue reopening, the report said. 

The report projects that even with reopening, if current interventions — such as social distancing — stay in place, the number of new cases per day should continue to decrease, with cumulative infections growing to about 21,400 in the next six weeks. 

However, the report states, more moderate increases in virus transmission are possible and could lead to a larger increase in infections.

New outbreak connected to Hood River fruit company

The Oregon Health Authority Friday reported 4,131 known coronavirus cases in the state.

That number includes both positive and presumptive cases. Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive for the virus but have symptoms and have had close contact with a confirmed case. 

OHA reported no new deaths Friday, leaving the state’s total confirmed COVID-19 deaths at 151.

OHA reported a new outbreak of six cases that has been connected to Duckwall Fruit in Hood River County.

The agency said the investigation started Friday, May 29 and that state and county public health officials are working with the business to address the outbreak and protect the health of workers.

Clark County at more than 550 cases

Health officials in Clark County announced Friday that there are 551 confirmed coronavirus cases there, and 25 people have died.

The most recent available data from the Washington Department of Health show 20,764 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and 1,106 known deaths.

As of Friday, Clark County health officials said that 120 positive coronavirus cases have been linked to an outbreak at a Vancouver fruit processor Firestone Pacific Foods. Five of those people are not Clark County residents.

The outbreak prompted Washington to pause Clark County’s request to move to Phase 2 of reopening. 

It may be the largest cluster of coronavirus cases in the greater Portland metro area not linked to the health care industry.

Vancouver allows some street seating

The city of Vancouver is taking steps to help restaurants do as much business as possible when Clark County eventually begins to reopen.

City Manager Eric Holmes on Friday issued an emergency order to allow restaurants to put outdoor seating over on-street parking spaces, allowing more customers to sit and eat while maintaining social distancing.

The plan won’t become reality until Clark County enters Phase 2 of Washington’s four-phase reopening plan. It remains unclear when the state Department of Health will give the OK after a recent outbreak at a fruit packing plant.

The order also lifts restrictions on picnic shelters and suspends on-street parking enforcement through June 30. Parking enforcement has been on pause since the coronavirus pandemic first hit Washington state.

Vancouver City Council must review the order at its June 1 meeting.

Oregon Employment Department reports more than 17,000 new claims last week

The Oregon Employment Department reported that people filed 17,443 new initial claims for unemployment benefits last week. 

The department said it processed more than 27,000 initial claims last week. 

More than 400,000 Oregonians have made initial claims since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. State economists expect the unemployment rate to rise above 22% this spring.

OHA says it will now report outbreaks in workplaces

The Oregon Health Authority said late Thursday that it would begin reporting large COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces. 

The new policy came after OHA confirmed an outbreak at Townsend Farms Thursday, a fruit farm and processor based in Fairview.

“Effective immediately, OHA will publicly report all past and future outbreaks that involve five or more COVID-19 cases in a workplace setting, no matter where the outbreak is located,” OHA said in a news release. 

The only exception to that policy would be if a disclosure would identify an individual. 

DMV says some in-person services available starting early June

The Oregon Department of Transportation said starting Monday, June 1, people can call to schedule an appointment for some in-person services at DMV offices. 

Appointments will begin June 3. Services available by mail or online will not be available at DMV field offices, but people can make appointments for:

Driver licensing and ID cards — originals, renewals and replacements

Driver knowledge tests

Driving privilege reinstatements

Disabled parking placards

VIN inspections for new-to-Oregon vehicles

Farm endorsements

The department suggests people wanting to renew a license or ID consider waiting until later in the summer for when demand for services may lessen.

People must come to their appointments alone unless a parent or guardian is needed to sign an application for a teenager or a translator is needed for knowledge tests.

Townsend Farms confirmed as site for recent coronavirus outbreak

The Oregon Health Authority Thursday confirmed a coronavirus outbreak at Townsend Farms, a fruit farm and processor based in Multnomah County with other locations in Marion and Washington counties. 

The outbreak, currently affecting 48 people, is at Townsend Farms locations in Fairview and Cornelius, OHA said. An additional 13 tests are still pending at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. 

Public health officials said those affected are migrant farmworkers who traveled to Portland over the Memorial Day weekend and that the workers are believed to have been exposed to the virus before coming to Oregon.

“People employed in agriculture are essential workers. They are also a vital part of our community,” Patrick Allen, OHA director, said in a statement. “The agricultural work environment can put them at higher risk of infection from a communicable disease like COVID-19, and we need to do everything we can to reduce that risk. State and local public health officials are committed to working with the agriculture industry to reduce the risk of infection for workers.”

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