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COVID-19 projections show social distancing in Oregon needed through early May, health officials say

Health officials in Oregon say social distancing measures appear to be working, but need to be kept in place through at least early May.

PORTLAND, Ore — The latest projections of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon show that if people can maintain current social distancing measures for at least another month, the state could meet the expected demand for hospital beds, health officials said Wednesday.

The latest report shows Oregon has a slightly higher number of current infections than previously projected. With that being the case, the Oregon Health Authority said there is “strong evidence that measures currently in place in Oregon are reducing transmission.”

The projections, prepared by the Institute for Disease Modeling, show if people continue to follow current social distancing measures into early May, coronavirus transmission rates could be cut between 50%-70%, the OHA said. In that potential scenario, there would be more than 4,000 total cases in Oregon by early May, with 200-1,200 of those cases being active infections.

There has been a total of 736 COVID-19 cases, including 19 people who have died, in Oregon so far.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Oregon: By the numbers

On the other hand, if the state were to reopen non-essential businesses, while keeping schools closed, the number of active infections could spike to as many as 3,500 by early May.

“We know coronavirus has brought painful disruption and distress for Oregonians. However, these numbers tell us that what we’re doing can work,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer at the OHA.

Researchers noted that these projections remain uncertain and as time goes on, and more data becomes available, they’ll have a clearer picture of what this pandemic will look like in Oregon.

The demand for hospital beds is expected to be constant until the rate of infections decreases. In addition to expanding bed capacity, state health officials are working with hospitals and other health care partners to mobilize the workforce and secure more ventilators.

While the state health care system does it what it can to prepare for the expected surge of coronavirus patients, officials said the actions people take in their own lives will have the biggest impact on the severity of this pandemic.

“The public’s ability to maintain social distancing will be the most important factor in determining whether Oregon prevents local hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 admissions,” the OHA said.

RELATED: Oregon coronavirus updates April 1: One new death, 47 new cases in Oregon

RELATED: Social distancing appears to be working in Oregon, experts say

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