New State COVID-19 Projections Show Mixed Expectations

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a report projecting possible COVID-19 epidemic trends in the state. They noted that these are only projections based on recent data, and are subject to change depending on the rate of COVID-19 spread.   

The state predicts COVID-19 cases may increase by 1,600 new confirmed infections per day in  mid-August after a 10 percentage point increase that started July 17 and continues to grow. Of course, OHA noted that this isn’t set in stone. Oregonians could reverse the trend by following best hygiene and social distancing guidelines that include wearing masks in public places when close to other people.   

The state also projected two other scenarios including a ten percentage point decrease in new cases, but an OHA representative indicated this model is the least likely based on recent trends. It was based on the theory that the recent increase in cases was partially due to increased testing and not increased rates of infection. This model would anticipate around 600 new cases per day through the next month.  

New Funding for Contact Tracing  

On July 23, OHA announced a new program to fund community-based organizations that will help with outreach, contact tracing and providing wrap-around services in “culturally- and linguistically-responsive ways in communities across the state.” The program will fund 173 CBOs with $9.4 million in CARES Act funds.  

How is Benton County Doing?  

The Oregon Health Authority estimates there are around 14 COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people in Benton County. Of the 132 diagnosed cases, so far 31 percent recovered and 5 percent died. Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center reported 10 hospitalizations suspected or confirmed to be COVID-19 related between July 14 and July 19.   

The OHA tracks each county’s progress in five “public health indicators.” Benton County is falling short on at least one of the five. According to OHA data, 33 percent of Benton County’s cases within the past seven days were not tracked to a known source, this is a little over the target of keeping that indicator below 30 percent. However one bright spot is that Benton County saw a 17 percent drop in new cases over the week, exceeding the goal of keeping the new case increase below five percent.