By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Oregon cases jump by 90

Cases of COVID-19 in Oregon jumped by 90 on Thursday, from 689 to 826, and two more deaths were announced, bringing the state toll to 21.

Yamhill County has 18 confirmed cases of the disease, placing it ninth in the state, tied with Polk County. There have been three deaths in the county attributed to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Oregon health authorities announced that the latest modeling from researchers shows “strong evidence” that measures such as social distancing are reducing disease transmission.

Current restrictions “could cut transmission rates between 50%-70% if Oregonians maintain these limitations on virus-spreading interactions into early May,” they said.

That reduction could make a crucial difference in the state’s ability to treat patients with existing health facilities.

“If Oregonians can maintain current social distancing efforts and the current projections hold true, the state could meet the likely demand for hospital beds under current strategies,” the OHA daily update said.

Grocery and hardware stores have been trying to increase worker safety, in some instances, by installing plastic barriers at check stands, as well as providing hand sanitizer and wipes for carts.

Nationwide, numbers and predictions have been dire, with unemployment applications breaking previous records, and cases of COVID-19 jumping to more than 235,000 in the U.S., where there have been more than 5,000 deaths.

In Jackson County, health officials have begun urging people to cover their faces in public, in the wake of reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reconsidering their recommendation against masks, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.

Jackson County health officials said they are encouraging the use of homemade cloth masks, not the surgical or N95 masks that agencies are asking be reserved for health care workers.

Also on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the White House is expected to issue a similar recommendation for wearing cloth masks sometime soon, in the wake of reports that the virus may be spread, not just by coughing and sneezing, “but simply by talking.”

The newspaper report noted that masks should not be placed on children younger than 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

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