The Oregon Health Authority reports seven new cases of the virus in Columbia County as of Friday, Sept. 25, bringing the total number of cases to 166.
The only reported pandemic-related death in the county occurred in early August.
COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 542.
The OHA also reported the highest daily case count since the beginning of the pandemic in Oregon, 457 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 32,314.
Patrick Allen, OHA director, said Labor Day gatherings, the return of college students to campus and a higher number seeking care following wildfires across the state are all contributing factors to the state’s sharp incline in COVID-19 cases.
“We must rethink the way we socialize and the way we socially interact,” Allen said in a media briefing.
The surge in cases follows a six week decline and presents discouraging numbers, Allen said.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “We cannot let up in our collective efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19.”
Across the state, outbreaks have been linked to social gatherings involving groups of people meeting without following health guidelines. Three outbreaks are linked to parties held at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. Another outbreak is linked to a prayer group meeting. All the gatherings had attendees without masks.
“We’ve all worked too hard in beating the tide of this virus,” said Oregon State Health Officer Dean Sidelinger. “We’ve flattened the curve before, we can do it again.”
Sidelinger and Allen reiterated the importance of following best health practices moving ahead. Wearing face coverings when outside or around others, restricting the size and location of gatherings and keeping physical distance from others are all effective ways to reduce transmission of the virus.
It’s also especially important to prepare for flu season this year, Sidelinger said.
“It’s important to get your flu shot. It’s important every year, but it’s important more this year than others,” he said.
Preparing against the flu season can help keep communities healthier as they battle COVID-19, which there is not a vaccine available for yet.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (11), Clackamas (33), Clatsop (73), Columbia (7), Coos (3), Deschutes (17), Jackson (14), Jefferson (4), Josephine (2), Klamath (1), Lake (3), Lane (50), Lincoln (2), Linn (12), Malheur (20), Marion (58), Morrow (4), Multnomah (62), Polk (8), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (9), Union (4), Wasco (3), Washington (51), and Yamhill (5).