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Most COVID-19 cases come from household transmission, Washington County warns

Social and family gatherings continue to be big spreaders.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. — As the Oregon Health Authority reports another record-breaking number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday, Washington County is upping community outreach to reduce household transmission of the virus.

Social and family gatherings remain the biggest spreaders.

In Washington County, more than 40% of COVID-19 infections are acquired at home. In Washington County's Latinx population, that number increases to 50% of cases.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, Hispanic people make up about 13% of the state population but a disproportionate 42% of COVID-19 cases.

Community organizations such as Centro Cultural and Latino Network attribute disparities to several factors. 

"Preventing household transmission is extremely important now more than ever, I think, due to our multigenerational homes that are very prevalent in our community," said Daniel Altamirano Hernandez of Centro Cultural. "Putting these boundaries to separate one from your core family is a really difficult decision."

Latino Network's Veronica Leonard added many in the Latinx community are apprehensive of public systems, choosing to avoid free testing events and community medical services, over immigration and employment concerns. Many informational resources in English must also be translated for meaning and appropriate cultural context.

RELATED: Free COVID-19 testing offered to Latinx community in Portland

"The myths and beliefs within each community may be different," Leonard said.

Groups like these are helping counties bridge cultural gaps, racing against the new daily spikes in COVID-19 case numbers.

Washington County released videos and resources in Spanish and English to guide families through COVID-19 testing, household transmission, diagnosis, quarantine, and caring for a sick loved one.

Dr. Kim Repp, Washington County's chief epidemiologist, urged sick family members to isolate from the rest of the household as much as possible.

"You should only choose one person to be the caregiver for the sick person," Repp said in a video released to the media.

Other suggestions included opening windows to increase ventilation while keeping airborne particles around the patient contained.

"Remember when we were kids and we'd build forts, right? So you can build basically a fort inside a room where a sick person can sleep, and that will even reduce transmission from coughing and breathing," Repp explained.

The video also included a demonstration of a tent being set up indoors to help reduce particle transmission.

As Oregon faces record numbers, OHA, the governor, county health departments, and cultural organizations are encouraging people to stay home and avoid social gatherings.

RELATED: Here are the COVID-19 restrictions for Oregon counties on a two-week pause

Latino Network plans to present a virtual community hour on Thursday, Nov. 19, urging Latinx families to maintain safe distance during the upcoming holidays.

It also continues free weekend testing events. Latinx people can schedule drive-up testing through Multnomah County by calling (503) 988-9093.

Virginia Garcia clinics also offer testing in Washington and Yamhill counties to migrant and seasonal farmworkers by appointment.

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