97303 virus numbers rise 15%: Governor limits all indoor gatherings to 10 people

After a brief reprieve, the number of positive COVID-19 cases spiked again in the 97303 zip code according to the latest report from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). 

OHA officials identified an additional 24 positive COVID-19 tests in the report released Wednesday, July 8, up from 151 the week prior. 

Just a few weeks ago, 97303 was one of the hot spots for surging cases of COVID-19. The area, which includes all of Keizer and smaller portions of Salem, experienced two weeks of 20 percent jumps in the number of positive COVID-19 p tests. It fell to a 5% increase (eight cases) on July 1, then leapt up another 15% last week. 

While cases of the virus are increasing, hospitalizations and deaths in Marion County – a sign of serious infection – have not increased and remain below the peak in April. Still, COVID-19 cases in Oregon rose by more than 300 in five of the past 10 days, peaking as 409 new cases on July 11. 

While Keizer does not have an identified outbreak of coronavirus, the Oregon State Penitentiary, Santiam Correctional Institution, Salem Hospital, NorPac, Brucepac, and the Salem Amazon facility, all in neighboring zip codes, have had reported outbreaks. 

It is possible that Keizer’s surge in cases could be linked to those outbreaks and employees that live here, but those details are not part of OHA’s reporting.  A previous outbreak at The Oaks at Sherwood Park that included 14 known cases of COVID-19 and one death has been contained. The only other reported outbreak linked to Keizer was three cases and one death at Avamere Court at Keizer.

OHA’s latest numbers show about one in four Marion County cases of the virus can’t be linked to another person with COVID-19. State health officials’ goal is keeping that number below 30% otherwise it’s difficult to identify how the virus is spreading and contain it if a large number of cases can’t be linked. 

In response to rising virus numbers throughout the state, Gov. Kate Brown issued new orders designed to help control the spread of the virus. As of July 15, potlucks, birthday parties and other indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and face masks are required outdoors when physical distancing can’t be maintained. The new restrictions do not apply to restaurants, bars or churches but Brown offered no guarantees they would continue to be exempt. 

Businesses are now charged with enforcing the outdoor mask mandate when customers are lining up or dining outside. Businesses that refuse to comply may face citation or closure. 

“Either people will adhere to this requirement or I will be forced to take more restrictive measures. No one wants that,” Brown said.

Currently, towns and counties in eastern Oregon are the sites of some of the larger outbreaks in the state.