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The Plague Rages On 

New mask laws, first death, outbreak at nursing home, record-breaking case counts and more in the time of COVID-19

Over the last month, daily COVID-19 case counts in Oregon have soared far beyond the first peak in March. Back then, Gov. Kate Brown shut down the state; Oregonians were told not to leave their homes for anything besides essential services and a walk around the neighborhood. This time, strict mask mandates replace lockdown, as some Oregon businesses hang on by a thread, while others have already closed their doors for good.

During the week of July 13-19, the Oregon Health Authority recorded 126 new cases in Central Oregon, the area’s highest week on record. - OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY
  • Oregon Health Authority
  • During the week of July 13-19, the Oregon Health Authority recorded 126 new cases in Central Oregon, the area’s highest week on record.

"I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing," Brown said in a statement. "If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public."

As of Tuesday, 262 people in Oregon had died of COVID-19 including a 63-year-old man in Deschutes County on July 14. Since the beginning of July, daily COVID counts in the state have been between a low of 168 on July 6 to the highest day on record, 437, on July 16, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

OHA attributes the recent spikes to outbreaks at workplaces, long-term care facilities and small family and friend gatherings like graduations, birthdays, weddings, holidays, fraternity parties, bachelor parties and exercise classes.

In Bend on July 15, Deschutes County Health Services announced that it was investigating a significant COVID-19 outbreak at Mt. Bachelor Memory Care in Bend. As of Tuesday, 23 residents and nine staff tested positive. OHA is tracking 30 outbreaks at senior living and group house settings, while an additional 38 outbreaks in nursing homes have been resolved since the pandemic began, according to OPB. Half of all coronavirus deaths in Oregon have been linked to group living situations.

In the midst of rapidly rising case counts, the state changed mask regulations twice over the last month. On July 1, Brown required masks in indoor public spaces. Then July 15, she began to require masks outdoors as well and indoor gatherings were limited to 10 people.

The Bend City Council approved a second administrative order discouraging travel to Bend. The order went into effect Friday. It asks hotels, RV parks and short-term rentals to pause bookings until Sept. 7.

Meanwhile, St. Charles' Bend hospital has treated at least a dozen people for COVID-19 who were not from Deschutes, Jefferson or Crook counties, according to the Deschutes County Health Services records. These patients could be tourists or they may be coming in from Eastern Oregon as St. Charles is the only Level II Trauma Center east of the Cascades, according to its website.

About The Authors

Cayla Clark

Cayla graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting, soon after realizing that playwriting is not a viable career option. Fortunately, this led her to journalism, and she is thrilled to be part of such a unique and fun-loving team. Upcoming local events? Send them her way!
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