The number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon increased by 285 on Sunday and will soon eclipse 20,000 since the pandemic began.
The Oregon Health Authority reported the case total is now 19,087 and the number of Oregonians who have died from COVID-19 is now 326 after one new death today.
There are few bright spots in the current environment, but a report earlier this week in the Idaho Statesman shows our neighbor to the east is suffering more than Oregon.
The Statesman reported that Idaho's positivity rate—the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19—was 13.2% last week, fifth-highest in the nation.
Oregon's rate of positivity in the most recent week's statistics was 5.5%, about where it's been for the past month. That rate is much higher in some Eastern Oregon counties, including Morrow (23%) and Umatilla (17.6%), which led Gov. Kate Brown last week to reverse the reopening process in those two counties and implement new restrictions.
The World Health Organization recommends that states should record a positivity rate of below 5% for 14 consecutive days before reopening. Seventeen states currently meet that standard, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 project. Oregon is not quite there, but Idaho is nowhere close.
A National Public Radio study last week found that Boise, Idaho, was one of the small U.S. cities whose hospitals were overwhelmed by COVID-19. "Places like southwest Louisiana, eastern Washington state and Boise, Idaho, have had to shuffle patients between hospitals," the story says, "in order to ensure everyone can get a bed."
That's not just a troubling sign for Oregon—it has a direct impact on the state's rural southeastern counties, which rely on Boise's hospital system when residents get very sick.