This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. (Courtesy of NIAID-RML)

The news moves pretty fast, and cases of COVID-19 in Oregon continue to rise. The Daily Emerald summarized some of the top developments of the past week.

Lane County

Lane County has had 336 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of 52 cases since July 12. Forty-nine residents are currently infectious, four are hospitalized and three people have died due to suspected infection, according to Lane County Public Health data. At least 30,884 tests have been conducted on residents.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s updated mask requirements include guidelines for outdoor public spaces and are in effect across Oregon as of July 15. 

“Any time, regardless of how brief the encounter, where you’re not able to maintain that six feet of distance — whether it’s on a trail, whether it’s on a sidewalk, whether it’s waiting in line, whatever it is,” LCPH spokesperson Jason Davis said during a livestream. “If you notice that you’re not going to be six feet, have that mask handy and please do put it on.”

Applications for rent assistance for Lane County renters opened on July 15, and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22. Funding provided by the federal COVID-19 CARES Act is available to aid with expenses from March 1 through the end of 2020, according to the application website. A total of $5.1 million is available.

Eligible households that apply will be selected via lottery, according to the website. Applicants must be able to document either a loss of income as a direct result of COVID-19, or prove elevated health risks or a compromised health status where loss of housing “would cause a health jeopardy related to COVID-19 for the applicant.”

Lane County has not hosted large-scale testing events available to all members of the public in order to conserve testing resources, Davis said. LCPH is trying to use its resources in the most socially responsible way and also as a tool to track the spread of cases.

“Regardless of what you might be reading or seeing,” Davis said, “there still is a massive shortage of testing supplies really spread out over the nation.” 

LCPH staff performed free COVID-19 testing on Wednesday at the Lane Events Center for frontline workers who do not have access to ongoing testing. LCPH tested about 300 people, according to KEZI

LCPH will hold another free testing event for frontline workers on July 29 at Lane Events Center from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to Lane County’s community testing web page

University of Oregon

Three University of Oregon students tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. UO reported one new case on July 13 and two on July 16, bringing the total number of cases within the UO community to 35. UO reported the first case of a UO student on June 12.

According to a university update, the increase of cases among UO students is a “direct result of small and large gatherings, with no face masks, limited physical distancing, and sharing drinks and vapes.” LCPH confirmed that the new case was connected to a cluster of college-age cases, according to the update.

UO appointed a student to the University Task Force on Long-term Responses to COVID-19, according to the UO update. Anthony Dillard, a third-year political science major, is the only student representative on the task force and was selected from over 80 applicants for the student member position.


Oregon has seen 1,339 new COVID-19 cases since July 12, bringing the statewide total to 13,509 since the beginning of the pandemic. On July 16 alone, the Oregon Health Authority reported 437 new cases. There have been 249 total reported deaths in Oregon—an increase of 15 since July 12.

New mask requirements went into effect for Oregon residents on Wednesday, in response to the alarming rise of cases throughout the state, according to an announcement from the governor’s office. 

Oregon’s face covering requirement now applies to outdoor public spaces where six feet of distance cannot be maintained. Indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

“The proof here will be in the numbers,” Brown said in a July 13 press conference. “Either people will adhere to this requirement and become a positive force for stopping COVID-19, or I will be forced to take more restrictive measures.”

Brown said that if Oregon does not slow the spread of the virus, “we will have no choice but to force widespread and difficult closures again.”