Today, Governor Kate Brown Announced Change to Reopening Status for Malheur County. The Governor’s press release explained, “…Malheur County will move from Phase 2 back to Phase 1 status, effective Monday, August 17. Malheur County was placed on the County Watch List on July 3, and COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly in the county since then, even with additional support from state public health officials.
“Over the past month, COVID-19 cases in Malheur County have risen so much that restrictions must be put back in place or we risk further illnesses and death in the region,” said Governor Brown. “I know this change is difficult, but immediate action is necessary in order to reduce the spread of the disease and protect all those who call Malheur County home.”
Malheur County COVID-19 Information
- Malheur County has a case rate of 266 cases per 10,000 people—the third highest in the state.
- Over the past two weeks, the county has had a test positivity rate of 26%, which is far above the state average of approximately 5.8% for the last two weeks.
- The county has reported an average of 15 cases per day over the past two weeks.
- Over the past week, 55% of new cases were sporadic cases that could not be traced back to a known source.
- One larger long-term care facility outbreak (23 cases) and a few small workplace outbreaks have been reported.
- The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has provided assistance with messaging and masking requirements, and is also providing ongoing case investigation support for weekend coverage.
The county will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days. The Governor’s office, along with public health experts, will review the situation and data on a weekly basis and remain in close communication with county leaders.
In Phase 1, recreational sports, swimming pools, and events and venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades remain closed. Non-essential local travel is allowed. Personal services businesses are allowed to operate with health and safety measures in place. Restaurants and bars are open for dine-in service until 10 p.m. with health and safety measures in place. Indoor social gatherings remain capped at 10 people as long as physical distancing is maintained, while other gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors. This means that indoor gatherings, including faith-based, civic, and cultural gatherings are limited to 50 indoors and 50 outdoors.”
On August 6th, the Malheur County Court extended the resolution to restrict outdoor gatherings to 25 people, because the incidence of cases that could not be traced to a known source was increasing and the risk of transmission remains high in the county.
Of additional concern to the risk of COVID-19 in Malheur County is the number of cases in the last month in Idaho. With tens of thousands of Idahoans in Malheur County every day to work and shop, the alarming rate of cases in neighboring counties is relevant to the risk in Malheur. As of today, Idaho is reporting 26,631 cases. Oregon is reporting 22,300 cases. Idaho has approximately 42% of the population of Oregon. We urge the public and Idaho leaders to follow CDC, local hospital administration, and state public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 across our shared communities.
August 13, 2020 – Number of COVID-19 cases in Idaho counties sharing a border with Malheur County:
- Washington: 217
- Payette: 417
- Canyon: 6,064
- Owyhee: 269
- Total Cases: 6,967
We know what works to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Know how it spreads: The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid close contact.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Monitor Your Health Daily: Isolate and get tested if you have symptoms.
- Stay home during full isolation or quarantine if you are sick or exposed to a known case.
The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce is preparing additional steps to respond to the Phase 1 step back and to prevent the possibility of a stay home order. Find out more about Phase 1 guidance on the Governor’s website and stay up to date with daily cases at malheurhealth.org/covid-19-cases.
2 thoughts on “Malheur County Returns To Phase 1 August 17th”
I question our ability to take responsibility for our actions regarding poor choices to protect our fellow citizens of Malheur County when we continue to point toward southwest Idaho as the source of the problem with unacceptable Covid conditions. On July 2, the Malheur County Health Department provided a link to key metrics in the “Path to Zero” published by the Harvard Global Health Institute from a consortium of public health experts united to bring clarity to data that the public receives. The “Path to Zero” provided a 7-day moving average of new cases per 100K people in each county. When I look at those data updated through today, August 14, they show Malheur County as the problem, not the Idaho counties as is so often implied. Those data show:
Malheur County – 57.9 cases
Washington County – 29.4 cases
Payette County – 37.6 cases
Canyon County – 53.8 cases
Ada County – 30.0 cases
Owyhee County – 33.8 cases
As is obvious in these current data for recent cases, we in Malheur County and southwest Idaho share a problem with uncontrolled virus spread. And definitely we in Malheur County should not be pointing to our neighbors in Idaho with accusations that they are to blame. The data indicate the opposite, especially when one also considers the recent increase in positive test rates for Malheur County when the symptomatic requirements for obtaining a test have been relaxed.
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