Oregonians in their 20s now constitute a fifth of the state's COVID-19 cases, according to new state data released today.
For several weeks, 20-somethings have accounted for a plurality of new COVID-19 infections, but a raft of new cases in that demographic now means they make up 20.6% of people sickened by the virus. The state doesn't release age breakdowns by week, but the overall growth rate suggests people ages 20-29 make up an even larger share of the cases diagnosed since July 1.
The rise in transmission among young people comes after Portland and other Oregon cities reopened bars and restaurants. It also follows six weeks of protests against police brutality, although health officials have observed no link between the protests and COVID spread, possibly because most transmission occurs indoors.
The shift in who's contracting COVID-19 may explain why no significant increase in deaths has followed Oregon's recent spike in cases. The Oregon Health Authority reports no one under age 30 has died from the virus. But it has a 24% fatality rate among people 80 and over.
OHA released the new demographic data Wednesday in a weekly report. That report showed a 51% increase in new COVID-19 cases over the first week in July, an unsettling trend as Gov. Kate Brown weighs whether the state should move forward or step back in its reopening. For now, much of Oregon remains static at the earliest stage of resuming business and social activity.
Contributing to the case for a pause: a rise in cases that can't be traced to any particular source, like a workplace or even a backyard barbecue. Some 500 cases across Oregon were described as "sporadic"—meaning nobody knows how the virus spread. That's far more than the number that could be traced.
Food processors continue to account for the state's largest workplace outbreaks. Lamb Weston, a frozen-french fry plant in Hermiston, has an active outbreak with 115 cases, the fastest-growing workplace outbreak in the state.
Among the smaller active outbreaks are several big names. The Amazon warehouse in Troutdale has been traced to 15 cases, while a Popeyes chicken franchise in Northeast Portland has five cases. That Popeyes location, along Northeast Ainsworth Street, was closed this afternoon—and appeared to be one of the few known instances in Portland where a COVID-19 outbreak shuttered a business.