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Social gatherings continue to spread COVID-19 in Multnomah County

Dr. Jennifer Vines, the county's health officer, said Monday that young adults gathering is "where we're seeing a clear trend."

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said social gatherings, particularly among young adults, continue to drive the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the county.

Dr. Vines held a Monday news conference to discuss the spread of COVID-19 and some recent trends.

“We continue to see people spreading through social gatherings, camping, travel to Washington and Idaho, small groups gathering for parties, for get-togethers is clearly where we’re seeing spread,” said Vines.

Vines said it's not clear to state health officials that businesses such as bars and restaurants are increasing the spread of the virus. There is also no evidence that protests in Multnomah County are spreading COVID-19.

"I don't foresee a Multnomah County stay-at-home order in the near future," she said. 

Multnomah County, Oregon’s most densely populated, is among the counties with the most rapid spread of COVID-19. Last week, Gov. Kate Brown added Multnomah, Marion and Hood River counties to Oregon’s COVID-19 County Watch List.

The county is well above the key metrics required for a full return to in-person classes when the school year begins this fall. Some school districts in the county have already announced they will begin the year with remote learning.

RELATED: Back to school in Oregon: What your district's plan looks like

In order to resume any in-person learning, even part-time, a county needs to have less than 10 cases per 100,000 people for three weeks straight.

Right now, Multnomah County is around 80 cases per 100,000, Vines said.

“It’s going to be incredibly difficult to meet that criteria," said Vines. "In the meantime, I’m hoping that the science will evolve, that we’ll learn from other jurisdictions' experiences and figure out how we can get our kids back to school safely.”

Vines believes case rates may drop as more people continue to wear face masks. 

Oregon is still seeing fewer tests available and long turnaround times due to national demand, Vines said.

Oregon health officials reported 615 new cases of COVID-19 in the state over the weekend. The Oregon Health Authority also reported four more people died of the virus.

RELATED: 'This disease is widespread in Multnomah County': Most county COVID-19 cases not traceable to a known source

RELATED: Multnomah, Marion, Hood River counties added to Oregon's COVID-19 watch list