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Multnomah County health officials: Make sure your Labor Day plans are safe

Officials are worried the upcoming holiday weekend could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases like what was seen after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. — Multnomah County health officials are asking people to consider their Labor Day plans and make sure they are COVID-19 safe.

They are worried that the upcoming holiday weekend could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, like the 40% increase seen in Multnomah County after both Memorial Day and the Fourth of of July

“Our ask of the public is to just find one way to take your plans down a notch in terms of risk,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said on Friday. “So, that might be having a smaller group, it might be convening your group virtually instead of in person. It definitely means having people outside and everybody committing to face coverings, even if you know each other well, and really maintaining that 6 feet of distance. We urge everyone to avoid being inside together. But, anything inside you should have windows open, fans blowing, with good ventilation, face coverings, and chances for hand hygiene at every turn.”

If you’re considering traveling for the weekend, health officials said there isn’t an issue with the travel, but interacting with people outside your immediate circle isn’t a good idea. Officials encourage you not to ride in the same car or stay in the same rental home with people outside of your immediate circle.

"What we've seen is people that are in multiple different households, that normally don't live together, but are extended family or close friends, end up staying together in close proximity in one rented space,” said Kim Toevs, communicable disease director in Multnomah County.

In the 14 days following Memorial Day weekend, the number of COVID-19 tests performed expanded by approximately 50%, which may indicate that more people were concerned they had been exposed to the virus or experienced symptoms. The percent of positive tests increased by about 40%. Due to the increase in infections, the number of hospitalizations increased by 240%.

In the 14 days following the Fourth of July holiday, test numbers increased by about 25%, and the percent of positive tests increased by approximately 40%. The increase in infections caused an approximate 20% increase in hospitalizations.

About 15% of all cases reported attending family and social gatherings during their exposure period, and another approximate 15% of all cases also reported travel for the holiday.

The CDC suggests that you:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid close contact
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect