By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Oregon daily case counts set records

Oregon posted two new records for daily COVID-19 case increases last week, with 575 new cases on Thursday, and 600 on Friday.

Case counts remained well above 500 a day over the weekend, and on Monday, the state announced 557 new cases, and one new death, bringing the state totals to 45,978 cases and 692 deaths.

Yamhill County reported an increase of 13 new cases on Friday, and 22 over Saturday, Sunday and Monday, bringing the county’s total to 1,047 cases.

Over the course of the pandemic, 47 people in the county have been hospitalized, and another 138 are listed as “status unknown.”

Last week, governor Kate Brown announced Friday the state is easing some of the restrictions on in-person school attendance.

Brown said she is taking a multi-part approach to easing school metrics, as health officials say much of the spread is being driven by small family gatherings.

Previously, in order for a school district to commence any form of in-person learning, the county must have 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days for three weeks. In addition, the countywide and state test positivity rate must be 5% or less for three consecutive weeks.

Under the new metrics, counties that have 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people — over 14 straight days — will remain in distance learning. If the county has between 100 to 200 cases, that places them in the transition column. Fifty to 100 cases places a county in a hybrid of on-site and distance learning. Counties with fewer than 50 cases are eligible for on-site learning.

“In order to get our kids back into the classroom, we need concerted, community-wide efforts to drive down COVID-19 case rates –– by wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, washing our hands, and forgoing large social gatherings,” said Governor Brown. “It’s on all of us to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, so we can open schools and keep them open safely.”

As of Monday, Yamhill County has reported 104 cases over the previous 14 days. 

Brown noted that people of color have faced higher risks during the pandemic, which has extended to difficulties obtaining schooling.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those existing disparities, with a disproportionate impact on Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina/Latinx, and Tribal communities, and communities of color,” she said.

In addition, “Distance learning is exponentially more difficult for parents who can’t stay home, because they work in essential sectors like the service industry, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. Not every home in every county has reliable access to broadband or learning devices for all children. And, unfortunately, too many students do not have a stable place to call home. These are the kids who need in-person instruction the most. The kids for whom a smile in the classroom or a helping hand in the lunchroom means everything.”

Statewide, the average number of daily positive tests per day has increased steadily over the last five month: 192 on June 1; 342 on October 1; 411 on October 24. Testing has increased overall in Oregon as well, from an average of 4,306 tests per day on June 1, to an average of 5,653 per day the week of Oct. 24 to 30.

Positive test rates have also risen to more than 7%, as of the week of Oct. 24 to 30. The cumulative positive test rate is 4.94%.