August 5th COVID-19 Update

Michael Dembrow

August 5, 2021

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and looking out for your neighbors and friends during this past week.

I’m sure you’re very much aware that we’re in a new chapter in the pandemic as a result of the effects of the Delta variant.  We’re gradually coming to a better understanding of how the variant works, how much more transmissible it is than earlier forms of the virus, and why it is causing the disease to spike once again (mainly in the unvaccinated, but also in a limited and milder way among the vaccinated). 

Here in Oregon, our COVID cases have increased eight-fold in the last month. (Multnomah County’s increases have been lower—four-fold, but that too is a crazy number.)  All the metrics, forecasts, and reports in tonight’s newsletter again point to a deteriorating picture, one that will likely be with us for the next couple of months. 

Oregon did a remarkable job of keeping its COVID case numbers and especially its death numbers low relative to other states during much of the pandemic.  That has unfortunately now changed.  According to Dr. Sidelinger (Oregon’s Chief State Epidemiologist), we’re now right in the middle of the pack, more in the place one would expect of us, given our population. 

It seems unlikely that we’ll be returning to the state-imposed restrictions on businesses and gatherings that contributed greatly to our earlier success.  However, we are starting to see a modest increase in vaccinations and both voluntary and required mask-wearing, both of which could really make a difference and help make us a leader in keeping residents safer again.

Sadly, this all remains highly political.  I continue to receive emails every day from individuals calling on legislators to resist and reverse the orders related to face coverings in schools, state buildings, and businesses, and anything resembling a requirement to show proof of vaccination as a means to keep people safe.

Last night I heard the following statement from a health professional during a PPS Board meeting focused on COVID response: “I get the vaccine to keep myself safe; I wear a mask to keep others safe.” This really resonated with me.  Despite the Delta variant, vaccines are clearly keeping nearly everyone who is immunized from getting a severe case.  When you look at the list of those who’ve died of COVID in the last week that’s at the end of the newsletter, know that nearly every one of them is someone who had not been vaccinated and whose death could have been prevented. (See the just-released COVID Breakthrough Case Report further down in the newsletter for more detail on that.)

Sadly, we now know that—unlike with earlier forms of the virus—even if we’ve been fully vaccinated, we can still spread the virus.  The vaccine will cause most of us to form the antibodies that will protect us from getting a serious case, but even if we’ve been vaccinated and we let down our guard, we can infect others. If they haven’t been vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated for medical or age reasons, the results can be deadly.  Hence the need for mask-wearing, which have been very successful at protecting others.  It becomes even more important in light of the Delta variant. (Most of the transmission appears to be coming from virus that proliferates in the nose and nasal cavities.)

Sadly, many people continue to believe that mask-wearing is only about keeping oneself safe, and we should allow them to decide whether or not to keep themselves safe.  If it were only about their personal well-being, I’d probably agree with them.  However, it’s not.  It’s mainly about others.  It’s about preventing infections in others, and I do think we all have a responsibility to do our part in pursuing that goal.

Until next week, please stay healthy and safe, and let me know if you have any questions about information in tonight’s newsletter.



  • New COVID Cases: OHA reports 1,026 new COVID cases today (vs. 322 last Thursday).  That’s an average of 638 per day for the 7 days since the last newsletter (252 more per day than the previous week). The cumulative number of cases in Oregon since the beginning of the pandemic is 218,689.
  • Variant COVID Cases:
    • OHA is now showing us not only this week’s variant cases but the growth of the different variants in Oregon over time. Here it is. You can see just how the Delta variant has come to dominate cases here in Oregon.  It is updated every Wednesday.
    • OHA’s Variant Dashboard provides current and new variant case numbers for the state as a whole but also for different parts of the state. It too is updated each Wednesday.
  • Positive Test Results: OHA reported 1,969 positive tests today (vs. 1,382 a week ago). That’s an average of 1,317 per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (vs. 1,042 per day the previous week). The cumulative total of positive test results since the beginning of the pandemic is now 323,617.
  • Total Tests: OHA reported an additional 12,93 tests today (vs. 12,930 a week ago). That’s an average of 18,999 per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (vs. 11,721 per day the previous week). Our cumulative total of reported tests is 5,771,821.
  • Positivity Rate: The test positivity ratio for Oregon today is 10.4% (vs. 8.9% a week ago). That’s an average of 9.2% per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (vs. 6.7% per day for the previous week). 
  • Hospitalization Information:
    • Patients Currently with Confirmed COVID-19: 457 (172 more than last newsletter, 306 more than the week before)
    • ICU Patients Confirmed w COVID-19: 134 (50 more than last newsletter, 97 more than the week before).
    • Confirmed COVID-19 Patients Currently on Ventilators: 39 (7 more than last newsletter)
    • Available Ventilators: 767 (9 fewer than last newsletter).
  • Hospital Capacity:
  • Deaths: I’m sorry to report 8 additional COVID deaths today, which is  more than last Thursday.  That’s an average of 4.3 per day for the week since the last newsletter (vs. 3 per day the previous week).  The total number of COVID deaths in Oregon is 2,885.
  • Vaccinations:
    • The 7-day running average is now 5,129 doses per day (up from 4,635 last week).
  • Total First and Second Doses Administered So Far: 4,657,531
    • 2,678,868 Pfizer doses
    • 1,792,572 Moderna doses
    • 183,629 Johnson & Johnson doses
  • Total Oregonians vaccinated so far: 2,507,454
    • 2,322,634 now fully vaccinated with two doses
  • To date, 5,644,265 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. (That’s 33,190 more than last week.)
    • 82.5% of these doses have been administered so far. The national average is now 86.7%.
    • 61.1% of all Oregonians have received at least one dose (69.3% of those 18 and older).
    • 56.2% of all Oregonians are now fully vaccinated (64.5% of those 18 and older).
  • For more details, including the demographics of those receiving the vaccine and the number of vaccinations by county, go to the OHA vaccinations dashboard.
  • Bloomberg News provides a wealth of easy-to-read information on the trajectory of vaccinations—by state, nationally, and internationally.
  • Here's information about Oregon’s progress in getting to the next goal: 80% of those 18 and over.
  • And here is a link to information showing progress towards the 80% goal specifically among various communities of color. Today’s number (233,668) means that an additional 5,054 people of color were vaccinated in the last week (down from 6,080 the previous week).

Additional Brief Updates

  • If you’re interested in keeping up with COVID’s proliferation on a daily basis, here's a link to the CDC’s data tracker. You can search for information on each state, and even each county.
  • COVID ACT-Now also has a helpful map and data tracker.
  • We have entered a phase of the pandemic where cases are surging but deaths not so much, or at least not yet. The New Yorker provides some context for this new phase that we're in.
  • Under the heading of “COVID Misinformation,” we’re seeing a number of people on social media arguing that the Delta variant is a hoax designed to get people worried and there’s actually no test for it. The Associated Press disagrees.
  • The Lund Report reports on a family reunion at Sunriver that led to a number of COVID cases, including among people who had been fully vaccinated. Check it out.
  • A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that most of those who remain unvaccinated believe that the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease.
  • One of the most heavily COVID-affected counties in Oregon is also one of the least vaccinated: Umatilla (think Pendleton area). Here's a story about the challenges they're facing.
  • Here’s an opinion piece from Dr. Vinay Prasad, a physician and Professor at UC-San Francisco, arguing that "Strong-Arm Tactics Won't Get America Vaccinated." He makes a number of good points.
  • As Oregon’s school districts (and the state Department of Education) are in the midst of planning for school reopening in September in the midst of the COVID resurgence, they will be looking closely at the experience of children and staff enrolled in the many summer programs funded by the Legislature this summer. They’ll also be looking at experiences in other states.  Georgia schools are already starting their school year and other states begin in August as well.As you’ll see in this New York Times article, the situation in Georgia is particularly problematic right now, given the low vaccination rates and high infection rates in most of the state.  They are seeing cases erupt in schools already.
  • The Delta variant and the COVID surge that it is creating is giving pause to many of those who are otherwise ready for more indoor dining. Is it safe? How does one decide? Today’s Washington Post provides some advice on how to do a risk assessment that works for you.
  • Finally, in a non-COVID piece of information, Legislatorsjust received this fact sheet from the White House that goes over pieces of the new Infrastructure Bill that will directly benefit Oregon.


It's Constituent Coffee Time!!!

Saturday is the first Saturday of the month, so August 7, 9:00-10:30 a.m., will be our next zoom coffee.

It’ll be a chance to hear more about the successes (and unfinished business) from the last legislative session, the next steps that are already underway, as well as the latest on COVID here in Oregon, and of course a chance for you to share your priorities and questions.

Hope to see you there!  You can register here.


New Breakthrough Case Report Released

Today is the first Thursday of the month, so that means a new breakthrough case report has been released.

The CDC is currently not reporting on breakthrough cases that are mild or asymptomatic.  However, Oregon is, and you’ll find those numbers for the state as a whole and for individual counties, along with statewide numbers for hospitalizations and deaths among those who’ve been vaccinated.

As you’ll see in the report, fewer than 0.2% of those who have vaccinated in Oregon have gone on to contract COVID at this point.  Oregon has experienced a total of 4,196 breakthrough cases (defined as those who’ve tested positive despite having been fully vaccinated) out of the more than 2.3 million Oregonians who have been vaccinated.

Looking at it another way, a significant number of the cases last month—19% of the 12,514 cases of COVID-19—were indeed breakthrough cases.  The median age of those breakthrough cases is 51 years old.  We’re seeing more breakthrough cases, and they’re mainly among younger people.

On the other hand, the number of vaccinated Oregonians who are experiencing severe symptoms—requiring hospitalization or resulting in death--is much lower.  The very few breakthrough deaths are among those who are much older (the median age is 83), individuals who are less able to produce antibodies as a result of the vaccine.


Governor Directs OHA to Issue Rules Requiring Health Care Workers to Be Vaccinated or Be Tested Frequently

Governor Brown announced yesterday afternoon that in order to keep vulnerable Oregonians safe, she has directed OHA to require health care workers in a variety of care settings to be vaccinated or be tested for COVID at least once a week.  A number of healthcare employers in other states have made vaccination a condition of employment for those in direct contact with patients.  Those requirements have so far been upheld by the courts.

In Oregon the situation is more complicated. Arguably, healthcare employers cannot create a vaccination requirement without explicit direction from the State, as a result of a law that was passed in Oregon many years ago (SB 741 in 1989 to be exact).  

The purpose of SB 741 was to protect healthcare workers and first responders who could potentially be exposed to an infectious disease, requiring that they be notified of their potential exposure and offered vaccine if available and appropriate to prevent it.  The law also clarified that the employer could not require the employee to be immunized as a result of this new provision, “unless such immunization is otherwise required by federal or state law, rule or regulation.”

The Governor’s new directive to OHA to issue a ruleoutlining new, required health and safety measures for personnel in health care settings” creates that necessary requirement by rule.

Actually, as you’ll see in the Governor’s news release, the new rule will not technically be a vaccination mandate.  The rule is actually a testing requirement, not a vaccination requirement.  The rule will require weekly testing of all healthcare workers unless they can show proof of vaccination.  I’m not sure that this roundabout way of doing it was necessary, but the Governor obviously felt that it was important that workers be given the ability to choose between one safety measure or the other, either regular testing or vaccination. 

Obviously, vaccination mandates (however necessary and justified) are controversial, and the Governor would like legislators to codify an appropriate requirement in law the next time we meet in regular session—i.e., next February.  I’ll be happy to support such a clarification.  

By the way, if you want to take a little dip into history, here’s the legislative file on the bill from 1989.


Oregon Department of Education Releases New Masking Guidelines

I mentioned last week that ODE was in the process of revising its COVID rules to include the new face-covering requirement.  Those have now been completed and shared with superintendents.

Here is the rationale behind the change:


Children are required to attend school, which is a congregate setting where COVID-19 can spread easily if precautions are not taken. Two of the most important tools the state has to control COVID-19 are vaccination and masking.

However, currently children under the age of 12 are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use. In order to protect students under age 12, individuals who are not vaccinated, and those with underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to complications from COVID-19, as well as to minimize the disruption of student education in schools because of exposure to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, requiring universal use of masks inside schools is necessary.

Here's a link to the new rule.

And here’s a link to the revised Ready Schools, Safe Learners  document from ODE.  The new changes are in green.


OHA Releases Latest County Metrics

Though it’s no longer assigning risk levels to counties, OHA is still reporting weekly increases/decreases in COVID spread for each county and for the state as a whole. Not surprisingly, we are again seeing increases in COVID infection rates and positivity rates in nearly every county and in the state as a whole.  The state now has an infection rate over 200 per 100,000 residents, the highest it’s been since the end of May.  Many of the more rural counties have rates far above the state average, with Umatilla County nearly 5 times above the 200 per 100K.


Weekly COVID Data and Outbreaks Report Released: Ongoing Increases

The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released yesterday, shows an increase in daily cases, hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths. 

  • OHA reported 5,946 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, July 26, through Sunday, Aug. 1. That represents an incredible 92% rise over the previous week. 
  • New COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose to 256, up from 146 the previous week, a 75% increase. 
  • There were 25 reported COVID-19 related deaths, up from 12 reported the previous week. 
  • There were 82,701 tests for COVID-19 for the week of July 25 through July 31, a big increase from 54,566 tests from the previous week
  • However, test positivity was 8.2%, up from 5.0% the previous week. This increased positivity rates points to a need to do even more testing to catch the cases that are out there..
  • Case rates have generally been higher in counties with lower COVID-19 vaccination rates. 
  • During the week of July 26 – Aug. 1, the statewide case rate was 129.3 cases per 100,000 population. Thirteen of Oregon’s 36 counties had case rates in excess of 200 per 100,000. All 13 of these counties had population vaccination rates less than the statewide average of 56.4%. 

Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 33 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings,

          1/13/21         202 facilities

          2/10/21         116 facilities

          3/10/21           44 facilities

          4/14/21           24 facilities

          5/12/21           42 facilities

          6/09/21           19 facilities

          7/8/21              22 facilities

          7/14/21            21 facilities

          7/21/21            21 facilities

          7/28/21            28 facilities

          8/04/21            33 facilities

The Outbreak Report also includes the latest data on COVID in workplaces, childcare centers, and public and private K-12 schools.


Latest Epidemiological Forecast Released: Sharp Increases Ahead

On Friday OHA released its latest COVID-19 forecast, which projects sharply higher COVID-19 associated hospitalizations and daily cases through Aug. 17.

The model is based on cases reported on or before July 20.  Cases tested on July 20 reflect exposures that occurred around July 14.

According to the model, the effective reproduction rate (Re) – the expected number of secondary cases that a single case generates – was estimated at 1.58 through July 14, more than double the 0.74 reported through mid-June.  Thus, in contrast to the earlier forecast, which had predicted that cases would go down (any Re below 1.0 would suggest a future reduction in cases), this new Re forecasts much higher numbers to come.

At that level of transmission, if it holds over the next two weeks, daily cases will continue to rapidly increase to 390 cases per 100,000 people (vs. the current 200), or an estimated 1,170 daily cases and 95 new hospitalizations per day.

This big increase in the forecast numbers is due to a variety of factors: the new, highly infectious Delta variant, the end of masking and social distancing, many more opportunities to socialize and come into close contact, a slowing down of new vaccinations.  On the other hand, the model shows that without the vaccine, Oregon’s numbers would be far worse:  without the immunity largely provided to those who’ve been vaccinated, their estimate of population Re would be 3.18 instead of 1.58, and new infections would be increasing at a much faster rate.

IDM is not alone in predicting ongoing increases for Oregon over the coming weeks.  The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s July 22 forecast for Oregon estimates that without universal mask use, daily new infections will continue to increase through late November. Oregon Health and Science University produces a weekly COVID-19 forecast for Oregon. Their most likely forecast (referred to as “primary scenario”) suggests hospital occupancy will continue to increase in the coming weeks.


Wildfire Update: Improved But Still Dangerous

In last week’s update, I reported that firefighters were beginning to make real progress on the big wildfires, notably the huge Bootleg Fire in Klamath and Lake Counties.  I’m happy to report today that the progress has continued: the Bootleg is now 85% contained.  The same is true for the other recent big fires: Elbow Creek in Wallowa County is now 95% contained, and the Jack Fire in Douglas County is 77% contained.

Meanwhile, lightning strikes have started a number of new fires in various parts of the state in the last few days.  Firefighters are working hard to contain them.  For now, things seem stable. Unfortunately, there are now air quality advisories issued for Southern, Central, and Northeastern Oregon.  

You can follow the situation on a daily basis via the ODF blog.


Final Vaccination Incentive Drawing Winners Announced

Here are the final statewide winners in the Take Your Shot, Oregon incentive drawings. This list includes the 36 individual county winners of the $10,000 prize and the four statewide Travel Oregon incentive drawings. Congrats to them all!


Cellila Martinez 


Mary Downes 


Nan Olson 


Scott Jagger 


Bradley Melville 


Edgar Moon 


Brent Tenpas


Joseph Nilles Jr. 


Claire Goffinet 


Eric Turner 


Robert Selby 


Patricia Amling 


Kelsi Swingle 

Hood River 

Sarah Ownby 


Sandra Reeves 


Wayne Schultz 


Kathryn Hedrick 


Logan Patzke 


Sherry Cleland 


Corazon Rios 


Jessica Escamilla 


Karen Irene Sellers 


Kristin Carfi 


Ana Briseño 


Brian Horneck 


Jane Rabe 


Carol Stone 


Roberta Aldrich 


Robert Jeffers 


Araceli Muniz 


James Tilley 


Lynn Steiger 


Terrence Shown 


Lyn Combs 


Susan Spier 


Kimberley Miller 


Travel Oregon Statewide Prize Winners:

Willamette Valley Region 

Elizabeth Raisman 

Eastern Oregon 

Jetty Swart 

Central Oregon 

Mitch Evans 

Portland Region 

Alexandria Swanger 


And the Deaths:

Here is information about the 30 deaths (down from 21) that OHA has reported since the last newsletter on July 29. Except for two, they all occurred within the last month.

Oregon’s 2,856th COVID-19 death is a 61-year-old man from Marion County who tested positive on July 11 and died on July 21 at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,857th COVID-19 death is an 83-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 12 and died on July 28 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,858th COVID-19 death is an 85-year-old woman from Clackamas County who tested positive on July 19 and died on July 20 at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,859th COVID-19 death is a 59-year-old man from Lane County who tested positive on July 28 and died on July 29 at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend.

Oregon’s 2,860th COVID-19 death is an 81-year-old woman from Jackson County who tested positive on July 21 and died on July 29 at her residence.

Oregon’s 2,861st COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old man from Douglas County who tested positive on July 19 and died on July 30 at Mercy Medical.

Oregon’s 2,862nd COVID-19 death is a 53-year-old man from Clackamas County who became symptomatic on July 22 and died on July 29.

Oregon’s 2,863rd COVID-19 death is a 93-year-old woman from Baker County who tested positive on July 8 and died on July 29 at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,864th COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old man from Douglas County who tested positive on Aug. 1 and died on Aug. 2 at his residence.

Oregon’s 2,865th COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old man from Douglas County who tested positive on July 30 and died on July 31 at his residence.

Oregon’s 2,866th COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old woman from Douglas County who tested positive on July 28 and died on Aug. 2 at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.

Oregon’s 2,867th COVID-19 death is a 70-year-old man from Douglas County who tested positive on July 9 and died on Aug. 1 at Mercy Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,868th COVID-19 death is a 43-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 18 and died on July 30 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,869th COVID-19 death is a 96-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 20 and died on Aug. 1 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,870th COVID-19 death is an 82-year-old woman from Josephine County who tested positive on July 26 and died on Aug. 2 at Asante Ashland Community Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,871st COVID-19 death is a 100-year-old woman from Washington County who tested positive on Jan. 29 and died on March 20 at her residence.

Oregon’s 2,872nd COVID-19 death is a 69-year-old woman from Yamhill County who tested positive on July 25 and died on July 28 at Providence Portland Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,873rd COVID-19 death is a 74-year-old woman from Jackson county who tested positive on July 9 and died on July 31 at her residence.

Oregon’s 2,874th COVID-19 death is a 43-year-old woman from Douglas County who tested positive on August 2 and died on August 3 at Mercy Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,875th COVID-19 death is an 86-year-old woman from Coos County who tested positive on August 1 and died on August 2 at Bay Area Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,876th COVID-19 death is a 69-year-old man from Clatsop County who tested positive on July 9 and died on July 27 at Holyoke Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,877th COVID-19 death is a 74-year-old man from Lane County who tested positive on July 28 and died on July 30 at his residence.

Oregon’s 2,878th death is a 78-year-old man from Union County who tested positive on July 26 and died on July 31 at Boise VA Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,879th death is a 78-year-old woman from Union County who tested positive on July 27 and died on Aug. 4 at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,880th death is a 78-year-old man from Union County who tested positive on July 24 and died on Aug. 3 at Grande Ronde Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,881st death is a 61-year-old woman from Union County who tested positive on July 21 and died on Aug. 4 at Grande Ronde Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,882nd death is an 85-year-old man from Lincoln County who tested positive on July 16 and died on July 31 at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend.

Oregon’s 2,883rd death is a 35-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 29 and died on Aug. 3 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,884th death is an 81-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 28 and died on Aug. 4 at his residence.

Oregon’s 2,885th death is a 76-year-old man from Malheur County who tested positive on Jan. 26 and died on Feb. 11 at St. Luke’s Nampa Medical Center.








Want to See Past Newsletters?

If there was COVID-related information in a past newsletter that you want to go back to, but find you’ve deleted it, you can always go to my legislative website (, click on “News and Information,” and you’ll find them all there.  Also, if someone forwarded you this newsletter and you’d like to get it directly, you can sign up for it there.



Here again are some resources that you will find useful

If the above links are not providing you with answers to your questions or directing you to the help that you need, please consider me and my office to be a resource.  We’ll do our best to assist you or steer you in the right direction.


dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
District 23

phone: 503-281-0608
mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301