By Associated Press • 

COVID-19 spreads in 'close social networks' as Oregon reopens


SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's coronavirus case numbers increased by 514 people during the weekend and Monday, officials reported.

A quarter of the new cases are based in Multnomah County, where officials say a majority of the spread is occurring among “close social networks.”

“It’s human nature, I think, to expect that the people that might be more risky to someone would be strangers,” said Kim Toevs, who leads the Multnomah County’s infectious disease team. “And the people they feel more safe (with), are the people they know – especially family and friends.”

However authorities say when people are around friends or family they may opt not to wear a mask or not practice physical distancing.

“Those are more likely the people to infect you, because they are going to be closer to you, in your personal space and, usually, you are going to be interacting with them for a longer period of time,” Toevs said.

Multnomah, which is Oregon's most populous county and home to Portland, implemented phase 1 of the state's reopening plan Friday. Hood River, Marion, and Polk Counties also entered new reopening phases Friday.

While health officials reiterated Monday they expect an increase in cases during reopening, the goal remains to minimize the number of people that are hospitalized.

Currently, there are 93 people, who have tested positive for coronavirus Oregon, who are in the hospital — 24 of those patients are on ventilators, according to data on the state's website.

“The measure of hospitalizations and hospital capacity is something that we are going to be watching very closely,” Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county area, said Monday.

As of Monday’s case count, the total number of people who have tested positive for the deadly disease in the state is 7,083. In addition the state’s death toll has increased to 192 people.

Since the start of the pandemic, 206,381 people in Oregon, have been tested for coronavirus.

Last week, the state implemented a new safety measure — in seven counties, beginning Wednesday, people will be required to wear face coverings while at an indoor public space.

In addition, a special legislative session will be held Wednesday, where one of the main topics of conversation will be about the pandemic.

Gov. Kate Brown said she will likely call for a second special session later in the summer to address the huge budget hit coronavirus limitations on businesses and spending.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.



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