SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Health Authority reported 307 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the state Friday, as officials continue to urge residents to stay apart to slow community spread of the disease.
In addition there were five newly-reported COVID-19 related deaths, including a 35-year-old woman in Multnomah County who had underlying medical conditions.
“To prevent (community spread), we need people to take the actions that we have outlined for weeks,” Patrick Allen, the director of the Oregon Health Authority, said at a press conference Thursday.
The total amount of confirmed cases in Oregon since the start of the pandemic has now surpassed 13,800. The death toll is 254.
Most of the cases reported Friday were in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, and Umatilla, a rural county that has the state’s largest amount of cases per capita.
“It’s spreading in every community in the state, rural and urban,” Allen said.
Allen said that the percentage of positive tests also has increased to 6.2%. The World Health Organization recommends the rate be 5% or less.
“While this is not the extremely high rates that other parts of the country are seeing it does tell us we have an increased community spread,” Allen said.
Health officials have attributed much of the recent infections to social gatherings, specifically weddings, parties, exercise classes and holiday celebrations.
More than a third of the state’s cases are people younger than 30.
In an attempt to quell outbreaks, this week Gov. Kate Brown enacted two new statewide safety restrictions and requirements. Residents are required to wear masks inside public places and now also outside when they cannot maintain proper physical distance.
Brown also banned indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people.
“We need you to be very strict with yourself and your family about using face coverings and not holding social get-togethers,” Allen said. “Together we can bend the curve again. We have to.”
The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.