There were 106 new COVID-19 cases reported in Malheur County in the last week. The rate of new cases has been increasing again over the past couple weeks. The below graph shows the rate of new cases over 19 weeks, since our first lab-confirmed positive case was reported the week of March 29th. These are only cases showing current, active infections.
As increasing numbers of Oregonians, including those in Malheur, have tested positive for COVID-19, many have wondered if that’s simply due to more testing. Although testing has increased, the positive test rate, which shows the prevalence of the virus, has increased. 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, 415 COVID-19 tests were reported in Malheur County and the overall positive test rate went up to 18.5%. The takeaway is that COVID-19 is spreading more rampantly and we are not doing enough testing to keep up with the increasing infections. Of all tests reported in Oregon through August 1, 2020, the statewide average is a 4.4% positive rate.
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.