Latest COVID-19 Projections Show Social Distancing Can Cut Coronavirus Infections if Oregonians Keep Current Measures in Place into May

Posted on April 1, 2020

Updated projections from health researchers show that there is “strong evidence that measures currently in place in Oregon are reducing transmission,” according to the latest models. The most recent data suggest that current social distancing measures could cut transmission rates between 50%-70% if Oregonians maintain these limitations on virus-spreading interactions into early May.

If Oregonians can maintain current social distancing efforts and the current projections hold true, the state could meet the likely demand for hospital beds under current strategies.

According to the latest report, researchers estimate that Oregon has slightly higher numbers of current infections than previously assessed, based on an increase in reported cases from earlier time points.

  • COVID-19 infections: Under current social distancing conditions with the cooperation of most Oregonians to Stay Home, Save Lives, it is estimated that in early May Oregon would have over 4,000 cumulative infections and 200-1,200 active infections. However, if the state were to reopen non-essential businesses (while keeping schools closed), the number of new infections would spike to as many as 3,500 active infections by early May
  • Hospital beds needed: Researchers found “expected demand for hospital beds is predicted to remain relatively constant before decreasing, assuming current or strengthened interventions and continued high compliance
  • Uncertainty: Researchers highlighted that the projections remain uncertain. In coming weeks, state public health officials and researchers will get a better picture of current actual infections and how they affect the projections, as well as more data on the public’s continued adherence to social distancing measures.

The models state health officials released today were prepared by the Institute for Disease Modeling, based in Washington.

Oregon’s emergency response continues to focus on strengthening the health care system’s ability to meet the coming surge. State health officials are working with hospitals and other health care partners to mobilize the health care workforce and keep workers safe, expand bed capacity and secure more ventilators. However, the public’s ability to maintain social distancing will be the most important factor in determining whether Oregon prevents local hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 admissions.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer at OHA, said: “We know coronavirus has brought painful disruption and distress for Oregonians. However, these numbers tell us that what we’re doing can work. We know social distancing is tough and comes with incredible sacrifices. But steps we’re all taking to maintain social distancing could save the lives of people we know and people who are important to us. As Oregonians, we all must continue to put Stay Home, Save Lives into practice.”

Stay informed about COVID-19:

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management lead the state response.
United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads the U.S. response.
Global response: The World Health Organization guides the global response.

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