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Oregon officials credit early action, luck to curbing virus

'Art' wears a mask on the empty streets of downtown Bend early Sunday morning, March 22
Benjamin Hanes
'Art' wears a mask on the empty streets of downtown Bend early Sunday morning, March 22

Model predicts peak on April 26; officials want to see drop in cases before change

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon appears to be an outlier as coronavirus cases start to peak in other states. Of all the states in America, Oregon is one of five states expected to have the fewest COVID-19 deaths per capita.

That's according to researchers at the University of Washington who developed a closely watched model.

Oregon is expected to have 0.1 deaths per 100,000 residents on April 26 when the virus peaks. However, officials want the peak to be well past before they consider reopening the economy. North Dakota, California, Utah and Arkansas also had or are expected to be at that low level. 

Oregon is in its fourth week of lockdown. Residents can’t enter state parks in mountains and in valleys now blooming with springtime flowers, or go to the state’s trademark wineries and microbreweries.

With many businesses closed, as elsewhere around the United States, job losses are staggering.

“We need to see fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19,” Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, told reporters. She did not specify how many fewer cases there must be in order to “reopen Oregon,” saying that would be determined by experts and data. Oregon has at least 1,844 virus cases and 72 deaths, according to an Oregon Health Authority tally on Saturday afternoon.

Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s chief health officer, told The Associated Press that health officials want to see a sustained decline in both new cases and hospitalizations before recommending changes to mitigation measures.

Oregon is expected to have 0.1 deaths per 100,000 residents when the virus peaks late this month, according to the model. North Dakota, California, Utah and Arkansas also had or are expected to be at that low level. For Oregon, why that is may be a combination of factors, including timing, travel patterns, demographics -- and luck.

The West Coast was hit first when the pandemic that started in China reached U.S. shores. California and Washington state, which boast travel hubs with Asia, took the brunt.

“This travel from overseas, that probably impacted Oregon a little later than our neighboring states,” Sidelinger told AP.

He noted that West Coast states all imposed stay-home orders early but COVID-19 had more time to spread exponentially in Washington and California.

Although the data is incomplete because testing capacities were so weak and many cases went uncounted, it’s clear that Oregon had fewer than the other two states, said Sidelinger, who is also the state’s epidemiologist.

“They were already ahead of us, in terms of the spread of the disease in their communities,” Sidelinger said. “So we had a little head start (in controlling the spread), even though we implemented at the same time. And I think that’s what’s helped us, together with Oregonians listening to the governor.”

Brown, though, imposed a stay-at-home order on March 23 only after being pressured. At a press conference on March 20, a Friday, the governor had merely urged Oregonians to stay home, a request that thousands ignored as they flocked to the coast on a sunny weekend.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who had been pushing Brown earlier to order Oregon residents to remain home, was set to independently shut down his city of 653,000.

“We were ready to act as a city if she didn’t issue a statewide Stay At Home order,” Wheeler told AP in an email. “We are grateful she did, for the protection of all Oregonians.”

Another factor that may have helped Oregon: The first deadly hot zone in America, in the Seattle area, was a nursing home whose residents were unlikely to travel far, said Rajiv Sharma, a professor at Portland State University who specializes in health economics and microeconomics.

“Think about if it had been college-age students who had been initially infected in Washington, then they travel quite frequently between Seattle and Portland, and are more likely to spread,” Sharma said.

Wheeler noted that its too early to be complacent.

“We’re seeing that as a result of our early action Oregon isn’t seeing the level of devastation other states are seeing,” the Portland mayor said. “During this pandemic, adapting quickly and with flexibility will mean the difference of life and death.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Coronavirus / News / Top Stories

The Associated Press



  1. Thank God for Trump leading our great Nation for the first time in many many decades! 👍🇺🇸 WWG1WGA! Read the Constitution of the United States People! Greatest president ever!

    1. Trump who ignored WHO’s recommendations and is now blaming them for the outbreak in the US? Trump who continually plugs a drug that is doing absolutely nothing to help prevent the spread of corona causing people not to seek real medical treatment and eventually die? If you and I were responsible for so many deaths due to such negligence we’d be in jail.

    2. Read the Constitution! WH Mafia Don has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is going on in each State. NOTHING. He is a media whore and people like you who think he actually has influence are just really dumb.

    3. what in the world? – members of your cult get rather hyperbolic at times – that is well known – first of all, do you really think there is any connection between God, and Donald J. Trump? What might that connection be? Second of all, you do know that Mr. Trump has repeatedly defied basic concepts in the Constitution (it has all been recorded, so reason to waste your breath fighting with me), most recently when he declared his absolute power – with this in mind, it is important to ask: what are you selling? and why?

    4. All he does is take credit when something goes right (usually the work of someone else) and point fingers when something goes wrong. His handling of this pandemic and dismantling of the pandemic team months ago have proven him to be the very worst leader our great nation has ever seen. His focus is entirely on his image, nothing more, nothing less.

  2. Funny how it’s no where noted that the amount of infections per day has remained roughly the same since March 13, which is 10 days before Brown issued any orders. And yet “IT”S BECAUSE WE DID STUFF EARLY”. Please.

    1. once again, slowly, so maybe you can get it – that was/is the goal – that is exactly the intent of the entire process – why is this so difficult for you to understand? Maybe you don’t want to?

    1. Hmm…. that math dont seem to add up. Oregon only has 4 million people and we lost more then 4 people so cant be one per million or .1 per 100,000…

      Dont get it must be common core math lol…

      1. itsjustme, the article reads “Oregon is expected to have 0.1 deaths per 100,000 residents on April 26 when the virus peaks”. They are saying that .1 in 100,000 “on” April 26 no “by” April 26. Again they are still using computer modeling that has proven to be misleading and wrong 100% of the time. Their modeling states most recently that only 60,000 people will die nationwide. actually less than a bad flu season.

    2. this is the result of the war on education that the conservative establishment has been waging for the last two generations – mission accomplished – the population is now sufficiently dumb enough for you to do whatever you want – they will repeat whatever you tell them to, no matter how foolish – full steam ahead

    3. Let’s go over it again. Cases go up and up but deaths stay at 3.8% (Oregon, 74 deaths in 1910 cases) until the hospitals reach capacity. Once the hospital reaches capacity, death percentages go way up, like Italy’s did. Plus, anyone that has a heart attack or is in a car accident can’t get medical treatment either, so they die too. We here in Oregon did a good job keeping numbers down, so it hasn’t happened.
      Please look at the John Hopkins map. Highlight US on the left column, then look lower right at the hockey stick and click the ‘Daily Cases’ button. What you see initially is a logarithmic increase, then a roller-coaster-flattening starting in April when everyone stopped going to work. Right now the country is stuck at around 25-35k new cases per day, which sucks, but is better than it could have been I guess.
      Given that information, I think we can have an actual conversation about what to do going forward.
      Plan A – I would argue that we should stay the course and finish the job, which should only take a few more weeks before cases start coming down and then we can open most businesses with continued emphasis on keeping 6′ and crap-tons of public sanitizer stations and please don’t touch your faces. Then we keep a super-close eye on the numbers to make sure things don’t get out of control again. I would leave concerts, sporting events, dance clubs, and churches closed. I think restaurants would be ok if tables can be spaced out. I’m going to break with my side and argue that schools should be opened up, but I would go out of my way to teach those kids every day to go home and wash their hands like a life depends on it, and to stay the hell away from grandparents because, you know, we love them and don’t want them to die. My reason for opening schools is: the kids really really need the interaction and the education, and the parents need those little shits out of the house so they can get to work. Probably not good reasons, but there it is anyway.
      Plan B – I believe many of you would argue that’s it’s just too hard and we need to quit now and go back to ‘normal’, and if people die then hey, they were probably old anyway. The one thing I would say is a major flaw of this plan, is that what many people advocating for this plan think that stores and restaurants and planes and theaters will just fill back up and everything will be ‘fine’, but I don’t think about 3/4 of actual real people will have the confidence to partake in this fantasy. I certainly wont. Or maybe they will. I seriously doubt it though.
      Either way, can we agree that if numbers go back up and hospitals start overcrowding then we close it back down? Yes?
      So there you have it. I laid out what I believe to be real numbers, and a couple of plans with my honest opinions of how they might turn out. Now you can never say I never post anything other than snark. Hope you all are healthy and happy. Please don’t touch your face. Call your Mom, she’d love to hear from you.

  3. Its dropping because we are coming out of flu season. This flu is no different than any other flu. The real test will be when flu season hits again.

  4. It’s great we did not listen to the Oranganus and did the West coast thing and saved lives. I will follow the West coast opening ignoring him as well and we will be fine. These intelligent democratic governors saved many many lives ignoring the Pumpkin child.

  5. I hope all the busieness owners that lose their business sue the living crap out of Kate Brown! She is screwed she is going to have huge legal reporcutions for the loss of business!

  6. Those 0.1 numbers were compiled by the same people who plan budgets and the impact of a new tax on people who live in Oregon as well. The only lucky thing was we all do not live in elder care facilities. Kate’s experiment with social control should be over anytime soon.

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