Wednesday, May 27, 2020
May 27, 2020

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Oregon health officer: Stay-home order working

Official says heeding it can avert spike in virus


SALEM, Ore. — As the COVID-19 pandemic claims a record number of jobs, Oregon’s health officer shared good news Thursday: Modeling shows the state won’t see a huge rise in cases as long as stay-at-home orders are heeded.

Dean Sidelinger, who is also state epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority, also said in a video conference with journalists that the rise in cases should be manageable, according to the modeling.

“The cases will rise slowly and rise slow enough that our hospital systems should be able to care for the people who get sick (and) should be able to provide the critical care for those who are most sick,” Sidelinger said.

He added that this positive outcome depends on everyone heeding the governor’s orders to stay home and on health care providers having personal protective equipment.

Modeling carried out by the Institute for Disease Modeling in Bellevue, using information from cases in Oregon, shows social distancing and stay-at-home orders in Oregon have cut transmission of infections by 50 to 70 percent, Sidelinger said.

The OHA reported Thursday that two more people died in Oregon of COVID-19, raising the state’s death toll to 21, and 90 new cases of the illness brought the statewide total to 826. Many of those people were likely infected two or more weeks ago.

“I think those numbers will stay up for a little while before we actually see them come down,” Sidelinger said, adding that greater testing capacity is identifying more people who test positive.

A flattening of the curve of infections cannot come too soon for the record number of people in Oregon who filed for unemployment insurance benefits last week, the state employment department reported Thursday.

During the week starting March 22, the Oregon Employment Department received 92,700 initial claims — a 21 percent increase from the previous week, which also set a record.

Gov. Kate Brown said she would call a special legislative session once state officials have a clearer picture of how a federal economic stimulus package will benefit Oregon.