White House coronavirus report: Oregon a 'location to watch'
Even as Gov. Kate Brown continues to reopen the state in phases, the White House coronavirus task force last week placed Oregon on a list of "locations to watch" due to increased cases.
So what should Oregonians make of that?
The May 7 report obtained by NBC News is an exercise in data. It provides insight into how the White House is monitoring states like Oregon even as President Donald Trump has argued that cases are falling throughout the country.
Oregon did not make a top-10 list of states with increased cases week over week, according to the White House report. Oregon did, however, make the second tier of 10 states.
The 11-page report, however, lacked nuance.
The report's watch list looks at increases in new cases. It does not take into account that Oregon's daily testing rate has gone up in recent weeks, helping explain the jump in cases.
That's only part of the increase, though.
Even as the rate of testing has gone up, the portion of Oregonians tested that are confirmed positive each day — which had spent weeks on the decline — appears to have plateaued and may now be growing, according to state data.
That statistic is considered a good indicator of how widespread the disease is in a population.
The Oregon positivity rate trend is compiled by The Accountability Project at the Investigative Reporting Workshop on a dedicated page at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Signs relatively good
Notwithstanding the White House report, Oregon's experience with coronavirus has been mild overall, and some signs are improving. Emergency room admissions for coronavirus have dropped, and the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus has dropped significantly.
Meanwhile, the state's overall rate of 4.2% test positivity continues to lag most other states, some of which exceed 25 percent. According to data compiled by The Atlantic magazine's COVID Tracking project, Oregon's positivity rate ranks 45th among states.
On the same day as the White House report, National Public Radio compared state testing data to a Harvard Global Health institute report that looked at how much daily testing states would have to do to effectively trace and control the spread of COVID-19 if they choose to reopen their economy.
Using the Harvard benchmark, only nine states are doing enough testing to handle contact tracing, according to NPR. Of those nine, Oregon and West Virginia actually fell a bit short of the required benchmark, while the other seven exceeded it.
Under Brown's reopening guidelines, counties in Oregon must submit reopening plans to the state and meet certain criteria before doing so. All but three counties have submitted plans..
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.