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3-D rendering of the novel coronavirus

SALEM — The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests cases hit their highest levels in four months, state health officials reported Monday, Aug. 3.

The Oregon Health Authority said the percentage of tests coming back positive was 6.1% for the week of July 26-Aug. 1. That is the highest percentage since mid-March.

State health officials had expressed some guarded optimism when the positive test rate fell to 4.8% in the previous report, breaking a streak of eight weeks of rising percentages of positive tests. The positive rate had reached 5.8% during the two weeks following the Fourth of July holiday.

The OHA also announced 272 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 19,366. There were two more deaths, bringing the state total to 328. The new fatalities were a 71-year-old man in Marion County and a 50-year-old man in Multnomah County.

During the initial outbreak, the positive rate was 9% and 7%, respectively, for the first two weeks of March. Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on March 8, which began a shutdown of many offices, retail stores and restaurants.

The positive test rate fell to a low of 1.6% in mid-May, just before the phased "reopening" of businesses in most of the state. The rate rose for eight straight weeks before the dip in the previous report.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported Aug. 3 that since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 4.1 million COVID-19 cases in the United States, with 155,379 deaths. Worldwide, the center reported just under 18.2 million positive cases and 691,352 deaths.

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