On Thursday Oct. 8 and Friday Oct. 9, Oregon set a two-day record high for reported COVID-19 cases, with 484 cases on Thursday and 425 on Friday. The main culprit? Oregonians continue to attend parties and social gatherings.
As of Oct. 9, there had been a total of 36,526 reported COVID cases in Oregon, along with 149 hospitalizations and 597 deaths. Oregon’s daily average is at its highest point since July 31. Benton County continues to have a relatively low number of cases compared to other counties in the state, with 348 cases total. The surging case count in the state suggests a wave of deaths will come in the coming months, since deaths often lag behind new cases by several weeks.
Yet, despite the growing numbers, many Oregonians continue to interact in groups of more than 10 people. On Oct. 8, prior to Oregon Health Authority’s announcement of the new one-day record for COVID infections, a survey was released that showed many Oregonians take mask-wearing seriously, but still attend social gatherings.
“In a survey of 1,000 Oregonians conducted by DHM Research, more than 8 and 10 report wearing masks nearly all of the time while in public indoor spaces; more than 2 in 3 avoid crowded places; and more than 6 in 10 are staying 6 feet apart when in public,” the Oregon Health Authority wrote in a news release. “However, roughly half of Oregonians report attending about four or more social gatherings in the previous two weeks, and 1 in 5 Oregonians say they have attended at least one social gathering of more than 10 in the past two weeks.”
The survey also showed that fewer than one-quarter of Oregonians are “very worried” about contracting COVID-19.
“Oregonians who gather in larger groups also reported taking fewer protective measures,” the Oregon Health Authority wrote. “State public health epidemiologists have pointed to social gatherings as a primary route of transmission for COVID-19 in Oregon.”
A separate survey by Lara Media, which was conducted in Spanish, shows that the Latinx community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. While Hispanic and Latinx individuals make up only 13% of Oregon’s population, they account for 40% of reported coronavirus cases.
The survey also shows that Latinx communities do a better job complying with health guidelines, and are more fearful of contracting COVID-19. 87% of respondents reported wearing a mask nearly all the time in public indoor spaces, and 72% of respondents said they were worried about getting sick.
Overall, the surging case numbers throughout the state and recent surveys show that although many Oregonians comply with mask-wearing, far too many continue to gather in groups. If actions from Oregonians don’t change, the state could continue to see a rise in cases and deaths.
“These results show that nearly all Oregonians understand it’s important to wear a mask,” Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen said. “But fewer Oregonians believe they’re at risk of getting sick, and too many people are socializing indoors in bigger groups. It’s hard to sustain the changes we’ve all had to make in our lives to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19. But we won’t be able to prevent more infections, and get more schools and businesses open in Oregon, until more people act with urgency and avoid the social super spreader gatherings that have driven COVID-19 transmission and disease in Oregon.”
By Jada Krening