SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Health Authority reported 484 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the state’s largest daily total since the the start of the pandemic.
In addition, a recent statewide survey found that while most Oregonians take proper COVID-19 precautions — including wearing a mask and washing their hands — a significant number of people continue to attend social gatherings.
“These results show that nearly all Oregonians understand it’s important to wear a mask,” said Patrick Allen, director of the authority. “But fewer Oregonians believe they’re at risk of getting sick and too many people are socializing indoors in bigger groups.”
A total of more than 36,100 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Oregon since the start of the pandemic. The death toll, which includes 11 new deaths reported Thursday, is 594.
For six weeks, Oregon’s COVID-19 cases and rate of transmission were in a downward trend. However, lately those numbers have been increasing.
The Oregon Health Authority reported last week that the percentage of positive tests had increased from the week before to 6.3% and that 25 Oregonians had died that week, compared to 18 the previous week.
“We won’t be able to prevent more infections, and get more schools and businesses open in Oregon, until more people act with urgency and avoid the social super-spreader gatherings that have driven COVID-19 transmission and disease in Oregon,” Allen said.
A recent poll administered to 1,000 Oregonians found that 20% had gathered in groups of more than 10 people. In addition 16% said they had participated in 11 or more social gatherings, which include events in a backyard, going to a restaurant, having friends over, attending a religious service or participating in a protest, in the previous two weeks.
However, health officials say Oregonians remain vigilant with other safety precautions.
Nearly 85% of respondents said that they wear a face mask indoors in public nearly all the time, 75% said they frequently wash their hands, and 89% said that they are “very willing” to quarantine if infected with COVID-19.
More than 40% of the participants said that they are “very worried” about the COVID-19 situation in Oregon and about 25% said they are “very worried” about getting sick.
Officials have attributed the rise in cases to Labor Day gatherings, the return of college students to campus, the interruption of testing during recent wildfires in Oregon and recent workplace outbreaks.
On Wednesday and Thursday the health authority reported five new workplace outbreaks, where at least 20 or more cases were reported. These outbreaks include a state hospital, McDonald’s and 41 cases at a correctional institution.
The most recent outbreak was 59 cases at Planasa Oregon Operations LLC in Klamath County, officials said.