- Associated Press - Thursday, October 22, 2020

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Health Authority reported Thursday that there was a slight decrease in COVID-19 cases in the state last week.

While this may sound like good news the number of cases have significantly increased since mid-September authorities say and Oregon’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate is still too high for kids to return to in-person learning.

On Thursday the Oregon Health Authority reported 373 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 40,810. There were 11 additional deaths, increasing the death toll to 646.

For six weeks, Oregon’s COVID-19 cases were in a downward trend until mid-September. For the first half of September the average number of new daily cases was 202. Since then, officials warned that numbers were again increasing at an alarming rate. This month, so far, the average number of new daily cases is 336.

During October, Oregon has reached grim COVID-19 milestones including the state’s largest daily case count since the start of the pandemic - 484 new cases - surpassed 600 deaths and reached 40,000 confirmed cases.



Between Oct.12 and Oct. 18, the health authority said the number of new daily cases declined by 4% from the previous week. However, the previous week held the state’s record for the highest weekly case count - 2,418.

While cases decreased that week, the number of deaths increased by two and hospitalizations remained the same.

The testing positivity rate was 6.5%. In order for schools to reopen, districts must meet certain metrics which include a statewide positivity rate of 5% or less.

“In order to get our kids back into the classroom, we need concerted, community-wide efforts to drive down COVID-19 case rates––by wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, washing our hands, and forgoing large social gatherings,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “It’s on all of us to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, so we can open schools and keep them open safely.”

For months health officials have urged Oregonians to continue to follow the statewide implemented safety measures.

As cases continued to rise this month the health authority again expanded face covering requirements to include all private and public workplaces, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, work spaces, outdoor markets, street fairs, private career schools and public and private colleges and universities.

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Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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