Multnomah County saw 715 new COVID-19 infections over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to numbers released by the Oregon Health Authority today.
The two-day total isn't a record for Oregon's most populous county, but it fits a pattern of rising spread of the novel coronavirus across the Portland area this month. Multnomah County recorded its highest number of new cases the week of Nov. 15—2,280—and is on track to match or exceed that total this week.
Most of the holiday cases were reported on Friday, but that's a technicality: County health departments were closed for Thanksgiving, so they didn't report new positive tests until the next day.
It's still unclear whether the two-week "freeze" ordered by Gov. Kate Brown has checked the spread of the virus. The incidence rate of COVID cases in Multnomah County skyrocketed to 467 people per 100,000 residents in the two-week period starting Nov. 8. (That was triple the rate in mid-October: 138 cases per 100,000 people.) The data from the period starting Nov. 22 is incomplete.
Multnomah County is preparing to emerge from the freeze into a semi-lockdown starting Dec. 3. The new classification, called "extreme risk," will allow restaurants to serve patrons on-site in outdoor picnic shelters but will reduce the capacity of retail stores from 75% to 50% during the holiday shopping season.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury warned residents this week to expect a precarious situation.
"I know that Multnomah County residents are looking for clarity and certainty," Kafoury said in a Nov. 27 statement. "Unfortunately, we are going to be in this crisis for the foreseeable future. We are constantly weighing our options as we focus on what is best for the overall health and welfare of our community.''
Hospitals remain jammed with COVID-19 patients. On Friday, 312 people were hospitalized with COVID in the region that includes Portland. Sixty were in intensive care beds; 34 were on ventilators.
In the same region including Portland, 1,707 non-ICU hospital beds are filled, and 175 remain available. That means just 1 in 10 hospital beds remain free.