State health metrics updated July 8 show the Salem area is meeting most goals for controlling the spread of Covid, but the number of new cases is increasing too quickly. (Screenshot from Oregon Health Authority)

The Salem area is seeing more people newly diagnosed with Covid than state health authorities would like, but is doing better than many other parts of Oregon at quickly following up on new diagnoses and identifying where people got sick.

State health officials warned Friday that their latest models predicted exponential growth in new Covid infections, with the number of people diagnosed daily tripling by the end of the month if current transmission rates hold, the Oregonian reported.

Pat Allen, director of Oregon Health Authority, said private social gatherings are continuing to drive transmission, especially among young Oregonians. He asked Oregonians to voluntarily stop hosting or attending gatherings of more than 10 people.

Marion County added 175 cases of the virus to its tally over the past week, for a total of 1,770 residents confirmed or suspected to have Covid. Fifty-three residents have died, six of them in the past week.

Polk County now has 171 cases of the virus and 12 people who have died. The death toll in unchanged since last week.

(Graphic by Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The percentage of county residents testing positive for the virus has been relatively steady at about 7%, higher than Oregon's rate of about 5%.

Ryan Matthews, Marion County's interim health and human services administrator, said the increase in cases locally is the result of more testing and said community spread of the virus appears lower here than in other parts of Oregon.

The health authority's latest numbers show about one in four Marion County cases of the virus can't be linked to another person with Covid. State health officials want to keep that number below 30% because it's difficult to identify how the virus is spreading and contain it if a large number of cases can't be linked. Statewide, that number is 45%.

Matthews said the health department has not identified any specific activities locally driving the virus' spread, such as private parties, outdoor events or church services.

(Graphic by Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

State data released Thursday says the hospitalization rate for Marion and Polk counties has not increased as of July 5.

Marion County publishes daily hospitalization numbers which show new hospitalizations well below a peak in early April, but up since the county began reopening in mid-May.

Hospitalization numbers matter because they reflect the number of people seriously ill with the virus and show whether the state or an individual hospital may see more patients than it has beds or ventilators to treat.

Salem Hospital is the only hospital publicly reporting hospitalized Covid patients. As of 7 a.m. July 10, the hospital had 18 patient positive for Covid and four more with similar symptoms awaiting test results.

(Graphic by Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Correction: This article misstated the death toll for the past week. It was six Marion County residents, not nine.

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Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.