Sept. 26, 2020 — The COVID-19 curve has started to shift upward in the state as the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reports 2,540 individuals have tested positive for the virus in the past week, resulting in five deaths.
While the rate of confirmed infections had been trending downward, the recent wildfires and numerous evacuations around the state put in place by civic authorities are believed to be main contributors to the previous weeks’ lower rate of reporting on confirmed cases of the virus, which included 457 new cases between noon Thursday and noon Friday — 50 in Lane County, with 1,164 cases currently reported by Lane County Public Health, including 18 deaths.
As of Friday, the 97439 zip code remained at a total of 22 reported cases.
At this point in the pandemic, there have been 32,315 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (As of Sept. 25) in the state and 542 individuals have perished due to the virus.
The steadily rising number of cases since Labor Day Weekend prompted a strong warning Thursday from Dr. Jim McGovern, Vice President of Medical Affairs for PeaceHealth Oregon network, on behalf of the Lane County Public Health Medical Advisory Group.
“More than six months have passed since the pandemic began and COVID-19 is very much still with us. In fact, it appears as though the preparations made by hospitals and other care providers at the beginning of the outbreak will now need to be utilized,” he said in a statement issued Thursday. “We are trending up toward a significant surge as we are now seeing our highest number of positive COVID-19 cases to-date.”
A main point of contention that has continued among some residents has been the disagreement over the necessity of the mask-wearing mandate issued by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, with some area residents and visitors to Florence only grudgingly wear masks in public spaces — or in some cases ignoring the requirement altogether. The issue has risen to the level of hostility in a few instances, with reports of physical and verbal confrontations taking place in Historic Old Town Florence as recently as this week.
The issue of masks has become a flashpoint for those dealing with the pandemic in their personal and business lives, and McGovern added his voice to the chorus of health professionals and scientists who continue to insist that mask wearing is one of the most effective tools the public has at this point in protecting themselves and others — particularly those most vulnerable populations, such as individuals with pre-existing conditions or over the age of 50.
“This is not only our wakeup call; it is our call to action,” McGovern said. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that each member of the community do their part to stop the spread: wear a mask, social distance and practice good hand hygiene. Avoiding large gatherings is also critical as they have contributed to the rise in cases.”
Masks, face coverings or face shields are currently required statewide for offices and indoor public spaces (for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, personal services providers, restaurants, bars, retail stores, etc.). Masks, face coverings or face shields are also required within outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible.
Children age 5 and up are required to wear a face covering. People with a disability or medical condition may request accommodation from the business if they cannot wear one.
“These are small actions that can have a huge impact — actions that are rooted in science and supported by the very people you entrust with your life,” McGovern said. “Our hospitals and first responders are prepared, but it will take each one of us within Lane County to do our part to protect our families, friends, neighbors and the community at large. From your trusted health partners — your doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and other providers — we implore you to please do your part in helping keep Lane County healthy and safe.”