By Associated Press • 

Oregon records largest one-day COVID-19 case count

UPDATE, Sept. 28: OHA on Saturday reported an additional 277 COVID-19 cases and 4 more deaths, and on Sunday reported 242 more cases and one death.

By SARA CLINE Associated Press/Report for America

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Health Authority reported 457 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, the state's largest daily total since the the start of the pandemic.

Officials attributed the rise in cases to Labor Day gatherings, the return of college students to campus and the interruption of testing during recent wildfires in Oregon.

“Today we find ourselves at another crossroads,” said the Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. “After weeks of steady decline in COVID-19, cases have begun rising.”

Currently more than 32,300 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Oregon. The death toll is 542.

For six weeks, Oregon's COVID-19 cases and rate of transmission were in a “downward trend."

However, Allen said that the most recent data provided by the Oregon Health Authority shows that the percentage of positive tests has increased from 5.6% to 6.2% and hospitalizations increased by 28%, revealing “how fragile our progress against the virus is.”

“These are discouraging numbers,” Allen said. "As experience has taught us throughout the pandemic, this is a marathon not a sprint. We cannot let the virus regain momentum. We cannot let up in our collective efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19. ”

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s epidemiologist, gave several examples of recent outbreaks, including 45 cases connected to various university parties, Greek life partings and college sports team gatherings, and 19 cases and one death connected to a prayer and sewing group.

“These are all reminders that when we get together with friends, family and coworkers, we often let our guard down and that is where we are seeing the spread of the disease right now,” Sidelinger said.

On Thursday, officials also reported an outbreak of COVID-19 at a seafood processing plant on Oregon's coast where 79 people tested positive.

Recent wildfires, which displaced thousands of Oregonians, have also been a factor in the increase in cases. Officials said not only did smoke and fire delay testing but it pushed people out of their homes, forcing them to spend nights at family or friends homes or seek help at a shelter where there are hundreds of other people.

“There is significant movement of people,“ Allen said. ”There is lots of people moving around and interacting with people.”

Many outdoor testing sites in Oregon and the state’s laboratory that processes and holds tests were closed for a portion of the week.

Officials say that it is unclear what effects the evacuations, due to recent wildfires in Oregon, and the poor air quality might have on COVID-19 transmission.




And what blows me away is that so many are just so cavalier about all of this and treat the mask as if it were now optional. I was in a small store the other day and a family of three came strolling in and not one of them had a mask on. What gives? Maybe you don't care if you catch a case of COVID-19 or not, but a lot of the rest of us would prefer to avoid that rodeo if at all possible. We all must act responsibly.

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