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

Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County's health officer, said 62% of cases are not traced to a known source.
Credit: KGW
Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County health leaders discussed the fight against the coronavirus during a Monday news conference, and said the county still faces testing and contact tracing challenges.

Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County's health officer, said 62% of the county's cases are not traced to a known source. Health officials are also seeing less cooperation from both individuals and employers during the contact tracing interview process.

"It hints at what we already are already, which is this disease is widespread in Multnomah County," Vines said.

Multnomah County averaged about 65 new cases per day last week.

For every person who is infected with the coronavirus, they are infecting more than one more person, according to Multnomah County Communicable Disease Director Kim Toevs. 

"I don't think at this point we can let our guard down or think that cases are going to drop simply because we still see people gathering in groups," said Vines. 

The Latinx community and other communities of color continue to be the most disproportionately affected by the virus, Vines said.

The average age of positive cases continues to drop. Vines said people in the 10-19 age group now have the highest relative rate of positivity, meaning they are not tested as often but their rate of positivity is high. 

The county still faces testing and contact tracing challenges, Vines and Toevs said. The average time it takes to receive test results has slightly improved, but still takes 7-8 days.

Last week, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said it expected a reduction in available testing over the next six to eight weeks because of the national surge of coronavirus cases and demand for tests across the country.

Oregon health officials reported 16 deaths due to COVID-19 over the weekend. On Friday, Oregon Health Authority reported nine people had died, the highest single-day report since the pandemic began. On Saturday, OHA reported four new deaths and the agency reported three more deaths Sunday.

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