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Cases Spike Right After Reopening 

After a spike in local coronavirus cases, Deschutes County gets an F from state health authorities

As Central Oregonians braced for an influx of coronavirus-carrying visitors this Memorial Day Weekend, a spike in cases revealed that COVID-19 carriers may live among us. Deschutes County contact tracers found many cases were spread at parties, and the majority were people under 29. Cases in Redmond are also on the rise, according to Morgan Emerson, preparedness coordinator with DC Health Services.

click image Shortly after Deschutes County reopened into Phase One, cases spiked, though due to the incubation period of COVID-19, opening was likely unrelated to the rise in positive cases. - NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Shortly after Deschutes County reopened into Phase One, cases spiked, though due to the incubation period of COVID-19, opening was likely unrelated to the rise in positive cases.

In just three days—May 18 through 20—the Oregon Health Authority documented 19 new cases in Deschutes County. This was shortly after the county was approved by the governor for reopening. Due to the long incubation period of the virus, Emerson said the surge was unrelated to opening.

“Over the last seven days, 27 new cases have been reported for Deschutes County, a 70% increase over the previous seven-day total case incidence of eight,” wrote Numi Lee Griffith, a health researcher with the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group on May 21.

“This is an increase in cases fully 65% higher than the state threshold for considering a reimposition of restrictions.”

On the OHA’s Public Health Indicator report card, Deschutes County got a 3 out of 6, the worst score in the state as of May 25. Cases have risen this past week by 11%, way more than the state’s threshold of 5%, which would trigger closing back down. OHA gives the county another red mark because 50 percent of its new cases cannot be traced to a known source.

Whether the state will use the county’s health status to put the area back on lockdown remains to be seen.

Deschutes County only employs six contact tracers: Their job is to find and monitor people who may have been in close contact with someone who has been infected. So far they’ve been keeping up with new cases, health authorities said, but the county is supposed to have a total of 30 tracers. The Deschutes County Commissioners told the governor that the county has plenty of staff on hand who could be deployed into this role if need be.

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