PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon hasn’t seen a coronavirus resurgence in the weeks since most counties began to slowly reopen businesses, the state’s top health official said Wednesday.
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen spoke of declining hospitalizations and infection rates as evidence that the spread of COVID-19 remains mild, even as new reported cases increased slightly in recent days, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
He credited Oregonians for taking steps to reduce their risk of infection, such as wearing face coverings in public and continuing to practice social distancing.
“I think it’s safe to say our situation is stable,” Allen said in a news conference with Gov. Kate Brown. “As stores, salons and restaurants have reopened across the state, COVID-19 has not reemerged with renewed ferocity.”
The official assessment comes as other states throughout the U.S. — such as Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin — have seen steady increases in coronavirus infections and deaths after lifting stay-home orders imposed at the beginning of the outbreak.
Brown allowed most counties to gradually resume public and economic activity on May 15. Twenty-six counties have applied to enter Phase 2 of the state’s reopening process starting Friday, which lifts additional restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic, Oregon has had one of the lowest infection and death rates in the country among known cases. While nearly 4,400 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since late February, recent projections estimate more than 20,000 — almost five times the number of identified cases — have been infected.
Multnomah County, home to Portland and almost 20% of the state’s population, remains under the state’s stay-home order. It has applied to start reopening June 12.