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New data from the Oregon Health Authority shows nearly half of the COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Multnomah County over the past week still can't be traced to a known source.
For four consecutive weeks, figures show health officials in Oregon's most populous county don't know where 45% or more of new cases are coming from. This week, from June 15 to 21, the number of those cases—termed "community spread"—is at 45%, down slightly from 49% the previous week.
That's a problem because it suggests the overall rise in cases is the result of the coronavirus traveling widely through the Portland area—not an outbreak that can be narrowed to one workplace or community enclave. (It also seems to undercut the county's explanation that the rise in local cases is due to spread within families.)
State officials have said they won't allow a county to move to the next phase of reopening if community spread is more than 30%. Those standards have proven elastic—but Multnomah County now fails four of six key standards the state is monitoring. Its overall cases are up, the number that can't be traced is too high, hospitalizations are rising, and the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive is increasing.
Those dreary findings, released Thursday in a weekly report, again cast doubt on the safety of Portland's reopening of bars, restaurants and beauty salons. Any spike resulting from the reopening probably won't be reflected in case numbers for another week.
On Thursday, the state announced another 124 new COVID cases, 29 of them in Multnomah County. Those figures mark a slight decline from previous record-setting days in the past two weeks.
Oregon also announced a change to the mask policy that applies to the entire Portland metro region: Health officials now "strongly recommend" that children ages 2 to 12 wear masks in any setting where they will come within 6 feet of people who aren't in their families. Previously, the state wasn't suggesting anybody under 12 wear a mask in public.