PORTLAND -- A fifth Oregonian has died from COVID-19, the Oregon Health Authority announced Sunday.
The fifth victim of the illness is veteran in his 90s from Linn County. He tested positive on March 11, and died this morning at the Oregon Veterans Home. OHA said he had underlying medical conditions.
OHA said Sunday that 161 people have tested positive for the disease. That's 24 new cases since Saturday. The new cases are in the following counties: Benton (2), Clackamas (1), Deschutes (1), Lane (1), Marion (3), Multnomah (1), Washington (13) and Yamhill (2). Polk County still has only one case, and 44 people who were tested but didn't have COVID-19.
Statewide, 2,864 patients have tested negative.
While Gov. Kate Brown stopped short of ordering people to stay home on Friday, she stressed the importance of social distancing Sunday morning.
Brown said via Twitter that people need to stay home to protect others, saying, “It’s a matter of life or death.”
“On Friday night, I asked all Oregonians, on the eve of spring break, to stay home and stay healthy,” Brown tweeted. Unfortunately, our trails and beaches were packed this weekend. I want to be absolutely clear, you are endangering all Oregonians when not following social distancing orders.”
She said it takes everyone following directives for the social distancing measures she already put in place to work.
“I know this is difficult for everyone,” Brown said. “It’s not easy for those who can’t visit their loved ones in the nursing homes. It’s not easy for those trying to balance work at home with their kids out of school. It’s not easy for Oregonians with employers that have closed their doors.”
Leaders in the coastal towns of Florence and Astoria asked people to forgo their normal spring break plans and stay home instead of visit the coast.
Oregon State Parks announced on Sunday that it would be moving up the date it will close all state parks to Monday in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. The campgrounds closure had been previously scheduled for April 3.
The closure includes all state parks, trails, viewpoints and picnic areas.
“This is part of a statewide effort to reduce transmission of COVID-19,” an Oregon State Parks press release said. “Day-use state parks will close at dusk on March 23 and will not reopen until further notice.”
All canceled nights will be refunded.
The release said the decision was based on the difficulty of maintaining social distancing at state parks; the health and safety of staff and volunteers; attracting tourist who will put a strain on local grocery stores, health care providers and search and rescue teams; and encouraging people to follow social distancing guidelines.
“Information is changing fast,” the release said. “Our new state park closure decision is in response to Gov. Kate Brown directing Oregonians to maintain social distance in public at all times.”