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Oregon reports highest daily total of COVID-19 cases; Labor Day and college parties to blame, officials say

Before Friday, the most cases the state had reported in one day was 436 new cases on July 19.

PORTLAND, Oregon — Health officials on Friday reported three more COVID-19 deaths in Oregon and 457 new cases of the virus.

This is the highest daily number of new cases that Oregon has reported since the coronavirus pandemic began. Before Friday, the most cases the state had reported in one day was 436 new cases on July 19.

Health officials said some of the contributing factors were Labor Day gatherings, the return of students to college campuses and parties both at Greek houses and private parties on and off-campus.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said in a media briefing Friday that for several weeks, the state was successful in reducing cases of COVID-19. The number of new cases reported weekly were in steady decline; however, for the week starting September 14, the state saw a 17% increase in cases compared to the week before.

"This surge in cases is an indication of how fragile our progress against the virus is," Allen said in his opening remarks.

"We continue to see cases where seemingly innocuous activity that we would not have thought about twice in the past are fueling outbreaks," Dr. Dean Sidelinger said.

Dr. Sidelinger said that one Oregon county has 13 cases associated with four separate university outbreaks, including a Greek house and three athletic teams. He said another county with a large university has 22 cases associated with three university outbreaks across two Greek houses and a large back to school party. He wouldn't specify which university was which, but the University of Oregon is in Lane County and Oregon State University is in Benton County.

OHA said the return to school has prompted a rise in positive cases. Students at both the University of Oregon and Oregon State had to take COVID-19 tests before being admitted into their dorms.

RELATED: Oregon State move-in period: 28 students out of 2,089 test positive for COVID-19

One of the students that tested positive at Oregon State tested negative later in the same day at her own doctor's office.

"I was very surprised because I didn't think I had been in contact with anyone and I had no symptoms," Freshman Katie Bruun says.

KGW asked the Oregon Health Authority how accurate the self-administered tests are. Dr. Sidelinger said, "There certainly can be variations between the tests and someone who may test positive in one method and test negative with another method, but a positive test usually shows that an individual has the virus even if they have a follow-up negative test. We would treat that individual like they have COVID-19."

RELATED: Oregon State freshman tests positive and negative for COVID-19 on same day

Oregon’s total number of known cases is now 32,314.

Clatsop County had the highest number of new cases on Friday with 72, followed by Multnomah and Marion counties with 62 and 58 new cases, respectively.

Here are the counties with new cases:

  • Benton: 11
  • Clackamas: 33
  • Clatsop: 73
  • Columbia: 7
  • Coos: 3
  • Deschutes: 17
  • Jackson: 14
  • Jefferson: 4
  • Josephine: 2
  • Klamath: 1
  • Lake: 3
  • Lane: 50
  • Lincoln: 2
  • Linn: 12
  • Malheur: 20
  • Marion: 58
  • Morrow: 4
  • Multnomah: 62
  • Polk: 8
  • Tillamook: 1
  • Umatilla: 9
  • Union: 4
  • Wasco: 3
  • Washington: 51
  • Yamhill: 5

The state’s death toll is now 542 people.

RELATED: Oregon Coronavirus Map

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released the following information about the three people who died:

  • Oregon’s 540th COVID-19 death is a 76-year-old man in Lane County who died on Sept. 1. The death certificate listed COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. Place of death is being confirmed.
  • Oregon’s 541st COVID-19 death is an 85-year-old man in Multnomah County who tested positive on Sept. 15 and died on Sept. 23 at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.
  • Oregon’s 542nd COVID-19 death is a 76-year-old man in Jackson County who tested positive on Sept. 10 and died on Sept. 18 at Providence Medford Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

OHA also reported a new workplace outbreak on Friday. An outbreak of 79 cases of COVID-19 has been reported at Pacific Seafood in Clatsop County. The case count includes all persons linked to the outbreak, which may include household members and other close contacts to an employee.