New Page: COVID-19 Resources

Visit our COVID-19 Resources page for quick links to the most current guidance and information on COVID-19.

Find answers to questions about:

  • reopening guidance
  • sector specific rules
  • community resources for individuals needing assistance
  • filing a complaint
  • different state department responses
  • federal recommendations
  • upcoming drive-up testing sites

If you can’t find what you need, follow up with our office and county partners:

  • Malheur County Health Department: 541-889-7279
    • Nurse line, public health services, questions about virus, exposure, or cases.
  • Malheur County Environmental Health: 541-473-5186
    • Business guidance, enforcement, filing OSHA complaint and follow up.
  • Malheur County Emergency Management: 541-473-5120
    • Law enforcement, PPE supply, and testing.

Assess Your Activity: COVID-19 Risk

We reported fewer COVID-19 cases over the last several days and while that is worth celebrating, the positive rate remained high (16%) because the total number of tests reported was also relatively low. Last week saw another record-breaking day for new COVID-19 cases in Oregon and Idaho surpassed the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Oregon, with only 40% of the population of Oregon.

The continuing increase in cases around Malheur County is a reminder of just how important wearing a face covering, frequent hand washing, physical distancing and staying home when you’re sick or under isolation or quarantine continue to be.

COVID-19 is still in our communities, and we each have a role to play in reducing its spread. As you consider your weekend plans, here are four questions you can ask yourself to assess how risky they are.

Malheur County Announces Three New Deaths Associated with COVID-19

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) is saddened to announce the fourth, fifth and sixth deaths in Malheur County associated with COVID-19 in the last week. Our hearts go out to the family and friends who have lost a loved one.

The fourth death occurred in a woman in her 50s. She tested positive previous to death and passed away at home on July 13th.

The fifth death occurred in a male in his 90s. He tested positive previous to death and passed away at home on July 15th.

The sixth death occurred in a male in his 50s. He tested positive previous to death and passed away on July 16th in a Boise area hospital.

Case investigators are diligently working on these cases and the drastic surge in cases recently. MCHD urges everyone to take precautions seriously to protect the spread of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable in our community. MCHD will no longer publish press releases for each death, but will continue to update all COVID-19 tests, case demographics, hospitalizations, and deaths daily at https://malheurhealth.org/covid-19-cases/.

Malheur County COVID-19 Resolution and Proclamation

Today, the Malheur County Court approved a resolution to protect Malheur County citizens and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 emergency through temporary social gathering measures restricting the size of local social gatherings, effective immediately.

The resolution recommends the following measures for local social gatherings when individuals are from different households:

  • No group of 10 or more individuals are to socially gather indoors (current statewide ban)
  • No group of 25 or more individuals are to gather outdoors.
  • Groups of less than 10 individuals gathering indoors are to wear face coverings, observe social distancing guidelines and keep six feet between individuals.
  • Groups of less than 25 individuals gathering outdoors are to wear face coverings, observe social distancing guidelines and keep six feet between individuals.
  • These temporary measures for local social gatherings include civic, cultural and private social gatherings and events, such as large back-yard weddings, private rodeo clubs, parties, book clubs and non-profit events.
  • The limitations do not apply or change the State Phase 2 guidance with respect to businesses and churches. Read the resolution for more detailed information.

Also, today, the Malheur County Court approved a proclamation: Together, We Can Keep Malheur County Open.

The proclamation requests our communities and citizens to unite and commit to pandemic guiding principles so that “Together, We Can Keep Malheur County Open” during the COVID-19 emergency.

Guiding principles:

  • We endorse a message campaign led by the Malheur County Health and Environmental Heath Departments as well as the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office – Emergency Management Division – illustrating and reminding our community members what they must do to keep Malheur County businesses open and to move forward.
  • We are committed to:
    • Physical Distancing
    • Protecting Others
    • Keeping Clean
    • Read more details in the proclamation.

OHA Weekly Report

Read the Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Weekly Report released July 15th. The COVID-19 Weekly Report data is finalized every Sunday at 11 p.m. PDT, and the report is published each Wednesday.

Malheur County has four outbreaks meeting the threshold for reporting:

  • Brookdale Assisted Living: 32 cases, 1 death
  • Snake River Correctional Institution, 117 cases
  • The Kraft Heinz Company, 6 cases
  • Oregon Child Development, 5 cases

The statewide positive testing rate during the time the data was collected for the Weekly Report (July 6–July 12), was 6.2%, meaning 6.2% of all COVID-19 tests reported in the state were positive. During the same period, the positive testing rate in Malheur County was 33.6% (180 positive tests, 356 negative tests, 536 total tests).

It is essential that people in Malheur County take this risk very seriously and do their part to reduce outbreaks by staying home when sick or during isolation or quarantine. Wash your hands. Wear a face covering. Keep your distance.

More on Face Coverings Required Statewide

Face coverings are currently required statewide for indoor public spaces (for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, personal services providers, restaurants, bars, retail stores, and more).

New Statewide Rule: As of July 15, face coverings are also required in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing is not possible.

For children over the age of 2 and under the age of 12, it is recommended, but not required, that they wear a mask, face shield or face covering. People with a disability or medical condition may request accommodation from the business if they cannot wear a mask, face shield or face covering.

Current Data Trends

Malheur County and surrounding Idaho counties are seeing a surge of new COVID-19 cases. Both Idaho and Oregon have alarming rates of new cases. Hospitalization surges lag behind surges several weeks, although we have already seen an increase in hospitalizations and severe illness. By sharing our COVID-19 testing data in multiple ways, we hope to raise awareness about the severity of the virus and that the public will do their part to slow the spread.

Credit to Daniel Morris, PhD for interpreting our current COVID-19 data into better to understand graphs.

The virus is spreading. Watch for symptoms!

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. If you have any symptoms, please isolate at home and call your health care provider for testing.

Malheur County Announces Third Death Associated with COVID-19

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) is saddened to announce the third death in Malheur County associated with COVID-19. Our hearts go out to the family and friends who have lost a loved one.

The third death occurred in a male, in his 70s. The person tested positive for COVID-19 prior to passing at a Boise area hospital on July 11, 2020, where he received treatment related to COVID-19.

Case investigators are diligently working on this case and the drastic surge in cases recently. MCHD urges everyone to take precautions seriously to protect the spread of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable in our community.

MCHD and SRCI Report on Increasing COVID-19 Cases

A large number of COVID-19 positive cases have been reported by the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in the last week. As of Monday, July 13, 2020, OHA indicates that a total of 102 people tested positive for COVID-19 in connection to the outbreak at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI). The case count includes all Oregon residents linked to the outbreak, including Adults In Custody (AIC), employees, household members, and other close contacts to an employee. The case count does not include any Idaho residents who may be associated with the outbreak, as laboratories report positive tests results to the state in which an individual resides. OHA is working closely with Idaho to coordinate contact tracing across state lines. For data on all confirmed cases at SRCI, visit the DOC COVID-19 Tracking Tool at oregon.gov/doc/covid19/Pages/covid19-tracking.aspx.

SRCI is Oregon’s largest prison with 2,899 medium-security beds and 167 minimum-security beds. All AICs who test positive or are awaiting test results, will be housed in medical services rooms or Special Housing Units (which have been repurposed for medial isolation) and are separate from the general population units at the institution. All DOC employees entering the institution will have their temperature taken and answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Malheur County has 402 total COVID-19 Positive Cases. Only 65 are out of isolation. The positive rate of testing overall is at a high of 15.6%. On July 7, Oregon reported a 4.0% positive rate. It is important to note that even without counting the SRCI cases, Malheur County is experiencing a tremendous surge in community-spread cases. Ada, Canyon and Payette Counties in Idaho have a total of 6,440 cases reported within approximately 100 miles east of Malheur County. As a border community with many people travelling between states frequently, it is essential that we proactively reduce the spread by following public health guidance, including avoiding large gatherings, keeping physical distance from all people you don’t live with, wearing face coverings, and staying home with symptoms or while in quarantine or isolation.

Many SRCI employees are residents of Idaho and their COVID-19 test results are reported to Idaho. SRCI internally tracks total staff who are affected, regardless of residence, but won’t be reported or monitored by MCHD. MCHD and OHA coordinate closely with Idaho for contact tracing and outbreak investigation. For Idaho residents with COVID-19 questions, please reach out to our partner at Southwest District Health (SWDH). Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 call center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411. Please refer to the SWDH Website at phd3.idaho.gov for the latest local numbers and data and the Idaho COVID-19 Website at coronavirus.idaho.gov for statewide information.

It is essential that all confirmed COVID-19 cases and close contacts answer the call from their public health department and follow the instructions for isolation and quarantine. If you have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, a case investigator will call and encourage you to self-isolate, even if you don’t have symptoms or feel sick. Self-isolation means staying away from everyone, including the people you live with and family members; not sharing utensils or bathrooms with others; only leaving home to seek medical treatment. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, a contact tracer will ask you to quarantine for 14 days after last close contact with the case or the date of the positive test. Quarantine means you stay home and stay at least 6 feet away from everyone you live with. During your quarantine, contact tracers will call or text you daily to see how you are feeling; encourage you to get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms; and connect you with resources if needed.

Typically, a person with a confirmed COVID-19 case must isolate at home for at least 10 days after your symptoms began and at least 72 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms improve. SRCI is requiring all COVID-19 positive Staff to isolate at home for 14 days after symptom onset or positive test. Regardless of which state a person lives in, they should complete isolation or quarantine periods with monitoring by public health.

A person can not return to work during the isolation or quarantine period with a negative test result because the incubation period of the virus is up to 14 days and a negative test does not mean that the person isn’t infected and won’t test positive later. A doctor’s note is not required by the Oregon Investigative Guidelines to return to work if the isolation and quarantine time is complete. Public Health can provide cases and contacts with letters verifying their isolation or quarantine is complete to give to their employers.

It is the responsibility of the whole community to protect each other from the coronavirus. Please do your part to reduce the spread to those who are essential workers and those who are most vulnerable. Wash your hands. Wear a face covering. Watch your distance.