November 12: The next 2 weeks are critical in our fight to slow the spread

Dear friends and neighbors,

Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 298 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Multnomah County. We have been anticipating a spike in cases as the rain and lower temperatures that accompany fall weather force many social activities to move indoors. That spike has officially arrived.

This startling news coincides with the governor’s call for a two-week “pause” on social activities in several counties seeing increases in community transmission, including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas. These numbers sound the alarm on how quickly and widely the virus can spread if we don’t take immediate action.

We give ourselves the best chance at protecting each other’s health by doubling down on basic measures that we know are effective in slowing the spread. We’ve done it twice before, and we can do it again. And frankly, if we want to avoid more severe restrictions in the near future, we have to.

Over the next two weeks, please make every effort to follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid gathering with anyone outside your household.
  • If you absolutely must gather with people outside your household, limit your group size to 6. Reduce the frequency of these gatherings as much as possible and keep the set of people you are gathering with the same. Remember that meeting outdoors is lower risk than gathering indoors.
  • Work from home, if at all possible.
  • Be extra vigilant about wearing a face covering, keeping 6 feet of distance from others outside your household, and washing your hands and shared surfaces often. It’s important to remember to take these steps especially when you are around people with whom you feel comfortable.
  • If you are around someone who was infectious, or have tested positive for the virus yourself, follow this step-by-step guide on what to do next.

It will take all of us committing to these basic measures to make the difference and turn the tide.

In the meantime, the County is shifting its work to respond to the surge in order to prevent serious illness and death among the most vulnerable, protect hospital capacity and streamline access to services for the frontline workers and people of color most impacted by the virus. Our efforts include focusing disease investigations on highest-risk situations, increasing low-barrier testing and improving data collection.

The Tri-County governments are also communicating with the State and the Oregon Health Authority about the kinds of support we need regionally to slow the spread: changes to the state’s disease response system, metrics that make the most sense for the Metro region, more open data, and increased State investments in communications, tracing and more.

I know that so many of us are tired of arranging our lives around these precautions. The extent to which this pandemic has temporarily upended our habits, and even our traditions, has taken a toll on all of us, and its disruption is bound to be felt even more acutely during the holiday season.

But this virus is not done with us. So now is not the time to give in or to give up. It's time to step up and do all we can to fight for the health and safety of our entire community. Let's do it for each other.

Please stay safe and stay healthy,

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair

P.S. I’ve updated the below list of COVID-19 resources with several new tools. Please take a look and keep these in your back pocket as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.

COVID-19 Resources