Oregon reported 805 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday—eclipsing the previous single-day record by 205 cases.
Multnomah County infections make up 196 of those cases, and a county commissioner tonight called for closing indoor dining at restaurants and bars.
"I am extremely worried about today," says Commissioner Sharon Meieran, an emergency room doctor. "This is a call to action that must be heeded."
Today's record numbers follow a seven-day case count that also set records. The continued increase suggests health officials have lost much of the influence on people's behavior that kept the pandemic manageable in the spring.
In a statement tonight, Gov. Kate Brown said that Oregonians should prepare for socially distant Thanksgiving dinners, among other extraordinary steps.
"COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon at an unprecedented rate, driven in no small measure by in-person, indoor social gatherings. You are most likely to get COVID-19 from your family and friends," said Gov. Brown. "Let me be clear: We cannot allow this disease to continue to spread so rapidly in our communities. Lives are at stake."
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer at the Oregon Health Authority, said health officials don't believe the increased case counts stem from workplace or restaurant outbreaks but rather informal gatherings—that is, house parties.
The percentage of positive tests are up to 8.5% as of last week, Sidelinger said in the press release. He suggests people appear to be "letting their guard down more and doing so as the weather turns colder."
State officials have been loath to announce greater restrictions on commerce as the virus has spiked this autumn.
Commissioner Meieran, who practices emergency medicine at Kaiser Permanente, called closing indoor dining and bars "the low-hanging fruit."
"I believe we should do that at the county level if the state won't do it," she adds.
She also suggested considering whether it was time to cancel voluntary medical procedures at hospitals.