With 15 new cases last week, the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Malheur County has shot up. The above graph shows the rate of new cases over 12 weeks, since our first lab-confirmed positive case was reported the week of March 29th.
As record numbers of Oregonians, including those in Malheur, have tested positive for COVID-19 recently, many have wondered if that’s simply due to increased testing. Although testing has increased, the positive test rate, which shows the prevalence of the virus, has increased, both statewide and in Malheur County. By offering tests to more and more people at a lower threshold, meaning people with fewer or no symptoms are included in testing, the positive test rate should go down as the number of tests increases. Last week, more COVID-19 tests (149) were reported in Malheur County than any week prior and yet the positive test rate went up to 4.6%. The state rate has gone from 1.6% in mid-May to 4.1% for the week ending last Friday. The takeaway is that COVID-19 is spreading more rampantly.
We are hopeful that by being transparent with as much data as possible, while protecting private health information, the public will better understand the increasing risk of COVID-19 transmission in Malheur County. Malheur County Health Department urges everyone to follow the preventive measures that will prevent outbreaks and protect those who are most vulnerable from severe illness or death.