Oregon reported on Thursday its highest single-day number of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, a day after its two largest school districts announced they would not attempt to resume classroom instruction until at least February.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 484 cases—a new one-day record—and 11 deaths. That brings the state's total number of COVID-19 fatalities to 594.
"My priority is getting kids safely back in school—but that becomes more difficult as COVID-19 spreads," Gov. Kate Brown said this afternoon in a statement on Twitter.
"Today, we had our highest number of COVID cases ever. Social get-togethers continue to be major driver. You can make a difference. It's up to each of us what happens next."
For weeks, state officials have grappled with demands from parents to reopen in-classroom school instruction. On Wednesday, Portland Public Schools and the Beaverton School District conceded the Portland metro area was nowhere near reaching the metrics set by Brown's office for schools reopening—and said remote learning would continue until at least February.
Those metrics include less than 10 new cases per 1,000 people in Multnomah County for three consecutive weeks, and a test positivity rate below 5% statewide for that same period. A weekly report released Tuesday showed the positivity rate had instead increased to 6.3% in the first week of October.
"We need our metrics to dramatically improve," the Portland district said in a statement. "We ask everyone in the greater community to do their part by observing safe health practices, including and especially wearing masks. It will take all of us to get those metrics where they need to be to allow us to welcome students back to classrooms."
Today's numbers suggest the state is far from achieving that goal.
OHA blamed some of the record one-day total of new cases on an outbreak at Planasa Oregon, a company in Klamath Falls. It appears to be a berry processing plant, like many of the state's largest workplace outbreaks.