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Multnomah County health officer calls weekend gathering at Portland waterfront 'concerning'

Most of the people in attendance weren't wearing masks or social distancing.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines called Saturday's large gathering of people on Portland's waterfront "concerning."

Vines held a Monday morning news conference to discuss the spread of COVID-19 and recent disease trends in the county.

"What we do know is that hospitalizations are stable, so that is good news," said Dr. Vines.

She said case numbers have been up and down in the most recent reports, so it's hard to say exactly in which direction the county is going. That is due to the lag time in testing results.

On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered to see Sean Feucht, a worship leader who has generated controversy for holding outdoor revivals in states across the country in defiance of state coronavirus restrictions.

Most of the people in attendance weren't wearing masks or social distancing. Vines called those two observations the most concerning and said there is potential that the event could have spread the virus.

RELATED: Hundreds gather at Portland waterfront, without masks, to see controversial worship leader

"I do understand that people came from different parts of the region," she said.

Vines said there is still no evidence that large protests are driving the spread of COVID-19.

Vines encouraged people to wear masks indoors except when they are in their own homes.

"Anytime you step inside anywhere other than your home, please put on a mask," she said. "And we need people to take leadership on this, to own this and to really view it as a form of respect."

Dr. Vines said the county is still seeing the virus spread in younger people in their twenties. She cited examples from the past week, including wine tasting gatherings, block parties and camping trips that have resulted in spreading the virus.

"Pay attention to who [you're] spending time with," said Dr. Vines. "Again, the more you mix and the closer you mix with people outside of your immediate household, the more likely this virus is to spread."

During the news conference, Dr. Vines clarified the recent news about contact tracing, saying most people are cooperating with public health officials, across the counties.

"Of the people we reach, the majority do cooperate with us, they want to do the right thing," she said.

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

Multnomah County, Oregon’s most densely populated, is among the counties with the most rapid spread of COVID-19. The county is one of several on Oregon's COVID-19 County Watch List.

"I have not heard any conversation about moving to Phase 2," Vines said, when asked about the possibility in Multnomah County.

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

RELATED: Social gatherings continue to spread COVID-19 in Multnomah County