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Oregon's social distancing is slowing the spread of COVID-19, researchers say

Cutting the spread is being done at the expense of many businesses and the tens of thousands of people who work there.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s social distancing measures may be slowing the spread of COVID-19 by 50% to 70%, according to researchers at Bellevue, Washington-based Institute for Disease Modeling.

One of the graphs in the institute's research shows that if schools are kept closed but businesses allowed to open again, the worst case scenario would include just over 150 intensive care unit beds through May 2.

Oregon hospitals on Thursday reported to the OHA that they had 291 ICU beds open and available.

Cutting the spread is being done at the expense of many businesses and the tens of thousands of people who work there.

I asked Multnomah County’s lead public health officer, Dr. Jennifer Vines, if it was time to reopen the businesses.

“That’s a great question – I think we’re gonna need to look more carefully at this question because there are real downsides that I’m aware of keeping businesses closed. I think that’s for our elected officials- for me that’s the county chair – who are very interested in how reliable those models are and what it might look like to ease up on social distancing and when,” said Dr. Vines.

She added that she's skeptical of the projections.

We also asked Oregon's state health officer, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the same question. Why not ease up now since things are working so well?

“We know disease can come back if we start relaxing. We want to make sure we have systems in place to manage cases, that we have adequate testing, then we could provide support and services needed while they recover,” said Sidelinger.

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RELATED: COVID-19 projections show social distancing in Oregon needed through early May, health officials say