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County on board with Governor's approach to COVID-19 posted on 12/01/2020

(MT) – In a press release dated Nov. 25, Clackamas County noted it will comply with Governor Kate Brown’s announcement of a more risk-driven approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across Oregon. The Governor’s announced metrics now directly tie allowed activities to clear measures of risk  – based on COVID-19 case data – helping businesses and the county plan ahead for reopening.

“It has been a long year for Clackamas County residents with COVID-19 and the recent wildfires. Thank you to everyone for your patience and continuing efforts to stay safe,” said Gary Schmidt, Clackamas County Administrator. “Most Clackamas County buildings will remain open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as has been the case for the past several months.  Please check the county website to confirm office hours before visiting and consider setting up an appointment before visiting and using services through the telephone, email, webpages or other electronic means.”

Using state data available as of Wednesday, Nov. 25, a total of 5,574 Clackamas County residents have contracted COVID-19 this year; 77 county residents have died from the disease. County health officials warn the recent large weekly increases in new presumed cases is alarming.

“To give some perspective, this summer, Clackamas County averaged 100-150 positive COVID-19 tests per week. In October, it jumped to 200 per week. Last week – in just one week – we hit 811 cases,” said Philip Mason-Joyner, Clackamas County Public Health Director. “That means we have more than tripled our number of county residents infected with COVID-19 in just a few weeks.”

The data-driven framework take effect Thursday Dec. 3. The risk metrics mirror current school metrics by monitoring COVID-19 case rates (the number of cases per 100,000 population in large counties such as Clackamas) and percentage of test positivity.

The Oregon Health Authority will use the latest data to update the metrics every week; since the metrics use the latest two weeks of data, counties can potentially move between risk categories – and change limitations on activities – every two weeks. The latest available data on these metrics shows Clackamas County would be in the “Extreme risk” category.

Meanwhile, the county joined other counties in Oregon in taking a “two-week pause” to fight COVID-19 starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. The two-week pause limited social interaction, in an effort to curb spiking COVID-19 infection rates.

“We realize that the news of a two-week pause is something Clackamas County residents did not want to hear,” said Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard in a press release. “We understand this is disappointing. But it’s necessary.”

Governor Brown ordered the two-week pause in counties with a case rate above 200 per 100,000 people over a two-week period.

“Please don’t wait to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Clackamas County Public Health Officer Doctor Sarah Present in a press release. “We understand people miss seeing their loved ones, and it’s more challenging to wear a face covering and distance when we are with people we trust. However, we are not going to contact trace or test our way out of this pandemic. The change will come when individual behavior changes collectively – that's in our control.”

Most people who contract COVID-19 get it from family and friends who are increasingly attending indoor social gatherings and aren’t using face coverings. Public health officials find that most positive COVID-19 cases in Clackamas County are from social gatherings large and small. Officials said a two-week pause should help slow the spread of the virus before maxing out hospital capacity, putting a strain on PPE supply chains and requiring further lockdown.

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