EUGENE, Ore. – Lane County is in its "worst situation" since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
That's the bleak assessment by public health officials Thursday, after 23 new cases were reported, and 85 are considered infectious, which is a county record.
Jason Davis, spokesman for Lane County's health department, blames the spike on birthday parties and other informal get-togethers.
"Small gatherings are causing big problems," Davis said.
According to Davis one backyard birthday party resulted in 15 new cases, while a separate party at a restaurant resulted in nine cases.
Davis also described a large celebration in which a person who was connected to the outbreak at Evergreen Memory Care attended. The individual was positive with the virus but asymptomatic and had 27 contacts at that celebration alone.
"Our schools are going to be affected by this. This is setting up a situation where we are setting ourselves up further back from in-person instruction, which is absolutely not a good thing," said Davis. "When you look at if you should have a gathering right now, please explore other ways to not do that gathering in person. That's the bottom line."
A total of 917 confirmed and presumptive cases have been reported since February. Four people are in the hospital, and 14 people have died.
Davis said the county's positivity rate -- the percentage of tests that come back positive -- has doubled in the last week to 4.2 percent.
More than 60,500 tests have been conducted.