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Lane County urges residents to avoid gatherings to stop surge in cases

Six months into the pandemic, Lane County is reporting the worst numbers its seen so far.

Posted: Sep 24, 2020 12:24 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2020 7:26 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – Lane County’s surge in COVID-19 cases continues. Six months into the pandemic, Lane County is reporting the worst numbers its seen so far. 

On Thursday, public health officials reported 47 new cases. This brings the county’s total of confirmed and presumptive cases to 1,118.

Of those, 175 are considered infectious, which means it has been less than 10 days since symptoms began. Nine people are in the hospital, and 16 people have died of coronavirus-related causes.

Thursday's sobering numbers are causing health officials to put stricter guidance in place. They are asking the community to hold off on social gatherings so they can get a better handle on the virus. 

"This is the most significant spike we've seen to date," Lane County Public Health Public Information Officer Jason Davis said.

Davis said he's worried the spike will result in a continued exponential increase in cases. So much so that Lane County Public Health is bracing for three to four weeks of an upward trend.

"Then we lose a handle on the preventable measures and we see it spread throughout the county and into populations who can be very adversely affected by COVID-19" Davis said.

So they're going back to the basics. Davis said the first and best way is to not have social gatherings.

Back when Lane County had a relatively low case count, community members were able to adjust their gatherings to make them safer.

However, since our cases and contacts are considered high now, they want the community to stop them all together. He said social gatherings and people’s behavior at these events are what’s driving the spread.

"It really enables public health to get a better handle on the cases and it will result in us being able to have a downward slope in our cases," Davis said.

Davis said Lane County is dealing with seven outbreaks right now, which are all made up of people ages 17 to 28. However, Davis wanted to make one thing clear.

"This is not a University of Oregon problem. We are seeing students from other schools involved in these clusters, we are seeing people who are in this age group who are not students, this is a behavior problem," Davis said.

This comes after the University of Oregon saw its highest daily COVID-19 case count on Wednesday.

RELATED: UO SEES HIGHEST DAILY COVID-19 CASE COUNT

But Davis said if the majority of the community practices good preventative measures, it won’t spread as fast.

"The behavior spreads far beyond the people who are actually sick because we are seeing it spread to other age groups as well," Davis said.

A University of Oregon spokesperson said since Lane County had such low numbers in the past, they anticipated an increase in cases.

That is why the university proactively put extra strict prevention measures in place for students living on and off campus.

Steve Clark with Oregon State University said we need to put as much attention onto our individual actions as we do towards schools.

"The data so far indicates that our students are like other Oregonians, some have the virus, many in Corvallis have the virus, some are asymptomatic, some are not. But that’s why testing is so important but that’s also why public and personal health measures are so important,” Clark said.

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