Oregon COVID-19 Forecast: Exponential Growth, Driven by Younger Adults

As COVID-19 diagnoses trend upwards, state officials are reporting growth in cases among people in their 20s. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) statistics show people aged 20–29 now account for 20.6 percent of Oregon coronavirus cases.   

OHA’s July 10 report noted that COVID-19 is spreading among younger adults through social events including confirmed cases linked to a fraternity party, a bachelor party, and exercise classes.   

Willamette Week reported the rise in twenty-something Oregonians’ diagnoses also seemed to trend weeks after Oregon bars re-opened as well as six weeks of protests and demonstrations. Willamette Week noted that public health officials have not observed a link between the protests and the spread of COIV-19, quite possibly because the events are outside.    

So far, no one in Oregon aged 29 or younger has died from COVID-19, though at least three percent of those diagnosed were hospitalized, according to the OHA. However, fatality and hospitalization rates increase with age; the youngest Oregon COVID-19 deaths were in the 30 to 39 age range.  

Increased Prevalence Begets More Infections 

The COVID-19 spike began after May 15 when Oregon launched its phased reopening plan.  The Oregonian reported that new modeling predicts hospitalizations and infection rates may continue to dramatically increase throughout July, predicting anywhere from 1,100 to 7,300 new cases per day by the end of the month.  

OHA’s report warns that continued exponential growth of infection numbers across all age groups is expected if transmission remains at current levels. The report urges the public to follow health authority recommendations and do more to flatten the curve of COVID-19.  

“The bottom line is that the disease is spreading more rapidly than expected and that since reopening, Oregonians have not consistently modeled the behavior needed to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the report states. “Limit the size of gatherings; maintain six feet of physical distance between people; wear a [sic] face masks; practice good hand hygiene and stay home if you are sick.”