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How you can help Portland health officials with contact tracing amid the COVID-19 surge

Metro area health officials are making a final plea, asking the public to cancel or drastically scale back Thanksgiving plans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

PORTLAND, Ore. — COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Oregon and across the country, and health experts are worried about a surge following the Thanksgiving weekend.

Health officials around the Portland metro area made a final plea to the public Tuesday, asking community members to cancel or drastically scale back their holiday plans to slow the spread.

“Given what we’ve seen in the past, whenever there’s a holiday that involves a lot of food and gathering – we tend to see an increase about two to three weeks later,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said. “And the way that things are now, an increase two to three weeks from now would land us in an extremely difficult position across the metro area as far as hospital beds, potentially emergency response times, and just generally our ability to respond and manage this virus, and frankly, save lives.”

The rapid rise in cases is changing how metro health officials do their work and they’re asking for the public’s help with contact tracing.

RELATED: Oregon sets new daily high with 21 COVID-19 deaths

“We are asking for your help, first and foremost to take precautions to stop the spread of the virus and to avoid getting exposed yourself,” Washington County Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann said. “If you do test positive, if you have COVID-19, please reach out to your close contacts right away. Public Health is doing our best to keep up and to do our outreach and education, but the fact of the matter is that your outreach, your calling your close contacts and notifying your employer will be much more timely.”

Contact tracers in Multnomah County county are only reaching about half of the cases that come into the county, according to Vines.

The metro counties are offering a new “After You Get Tested” guide to help the public notify their contacts, employers, and more. It walks you through the process of how to prevent the spread, even how to figure out how long you’ve been contagious.

CLICK HERE to see the guide for yourself

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