Like most of the rest of the state and country, Wasco County is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. It saw 23 new cases over the weekend, with 17 coming on Saturday, according to the North Central Public Health District (NCPHD). 

There are no new large outbreaks in the county at this time that meet the threshold of public reporting (five or more cases at businesses with 30 or more employees); but rather, a majority of Saturday’s 17 reported cases were due to family get-togethers.

"This falls in line with what is being seen throughout Oregon: Social gatherings are a driver in COVID transmission," said an NCPHD press release. 

With Thanksgiving approaching, NCPHD urges the public to follow Gov. Kate Brown's two-week statewide “freeze” that limits social gatherings to no more than six people from no more than two households. The freeze starts this Wednesday, Nov. 18 and continues through Dec. 2.

Restaurants and bars will switch to take-out only, gyms will close, grocery stores and pharmacies are limited to 75 percent capacity and faith organizations can only hold services with 25 people indoors or 50 outdoors. All employers are encouraged to have employees work from home to the extent possible.

While many of the weekend’s cases are due to household spread or from small gatherings, Wasco County has also seen an increase in the proportion of “sporadic” or “community spread” cases. Those are cases with no known link to another case, and are the major category of transmission in Oregon. "As Brown said last Friday, the virus is out there, 'lurking amongst us.'"

The statewide freeze was implemented to slow an explosion of COVID cases in the last two weeks that, if left unchecked, is predicted to overwhelm the state’s hospital capacity by mid-December.

For more information, please contact North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600 or visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org or https://wascoshermangilliamcovid-19.com/)