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'This looks a lot like November': COVID cases rising fast in Oregon

The sharp rise in cases could send several counties back to "extreme risk" restrictions.

PORTLAND, Ore. — COVID-19 cases are rising so fast in some parts of Oregon, they've made national rankings on the New York Times coronavirus tracker

“If you take a two-week look at this as the New York Times does, we’re, I believe, the fourth-highest state in the country for rate of growth of cases for that two-week period,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen

His statement came while briefing state lawmakers on Oregon's progress in fighting COVID. 

The tracker also placed Grant County as third-highest in the nation for rising cases over the last two weeks.

“So, we’re definitely in – we’re in a place we’ve been before as a state just in terms of sheer numbers of cases. This looks a lot like November of last year,” Allen said.

Allen told lawmakers he expects Gov. Kate Brown will announce how the state will come out of the pandemic and what metrics will need to be met for life to return to normal, or something like normal. Brown has called a press conference for 11 a.m. Friday.

Allen added that the state is shifting some of its vaccine supply from counties that have plenty to areas that still need more. 

The following counties will not be getting new first doses for the week of April 26: Clatsop, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson County (except the FEMA site) Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler.

“We do now see very uneven demand across counties around the state," said Allen. "We’ve got eight or nine counties I think that for this next week have told us they don’t need any more doses. They’re still working through the doses they have."

The state's weekly report for April 12-18 announced 4,742 new COVID cases during that week. That’s a 27% jump over the previous week and the fourth week in a row in which COVID cases increased by 20% or more.

Finally, there is a real chance some Oregon counties will move back into the extreme risk category, which bans indoor dining at restaurants and significantly reduces the number of people who can be inside a gym or indoor entertainment space. 

Last week, 11 counties were spared from moving into the extreme risk category because of new rules put in place by Gov. Brown. The rules kept counties from moving into the extreme category unless there were 300 people hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide, and if there was also an increase in cases week over week by 15% or more.

As of Thursday, 283 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon and week over week, case counts have grown by at least 20% for each of the last four weeks.

Have a comment or story idea for Pat Dooris? Email him at pdooris@kgw.com