New projections show social distancing in Oregon may reduce COVID-19 transmission by 50-70%

New modeling shows evidence that social distancing measures currently in place in Oregon are reducing the transmission of COVID-19. While the lack of testing and the delay between infection and diagnosis create “considerable uncertainty,” data shows current transmission rates having been reduced by 50-70% compared to baseline, according to the report.

The report from the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) in Bellevue, Washington, evaluates the impact of Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order issued on March 23.



Researchers at IDM estimate that with the current “stay-at-home” order in effect, there will be approximately 4,000 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Oregon at the start of May. Between 200 and 1,200 of those would be active cases.

If the state were to reopen non-essential businesses and move away from social distancing practices, the number of infections jumps to almost 7,000, with the potential to go as high as over 11,000. The number of active cases at the beginning of May could range from 900 to over 3,500.


Image: Kerr, Hagedorn, Mistry, Klein


The researchers’ projections show that the number of COVID-19 cases could be reduced even further with improved testing and contact tracing.

“We stress the need for a continuation of strong social distancing measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, additional measures, including increased testing, early isolation of positives, and contact tracing, will be required to rapidly bring down the number of active infections,” reads the report.

The report also evaluates the number of hospital beds and ICU beds needed based on Oregonians’ compliance with social distancing measures.


Image: Kerr, Hagedorn, Mistry, Klein


“If Oregonians can maintain current social distancing efforts and the current projections hold true, the state could meet the likely demand for hospital beds under current strategies,” says the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

According to data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Oregon is likely to reach peak resource use — including acute care beds, ICU beds, and ventilators — on May 5.

“We know coronavirus has brought painful disruption and distress for Oregonians. However, these numbers tell us that what we’re doing can work,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer at the Oregon Health Authority. “We know social distancing is tough and comes with incredible sacrifices. But steps we’re all taking to maintain social distancing could save the lives of people we know and people who are important to us. As Oregonians, we all must continue to put Stay Home, Save Lives into practice.”