Malheur County’s declining new COVID-19 case counts bring optimism

For the past week, Oregon’s daily COVID-19 update has shown a marked drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Malheur County. There have been just three new cases since Sunday and three days this week, including today, with no new cases reported. The dramatic dip in numbers is encouraging, but people are advised to be optimistically cautious: Continue to follow safety guidelines, and get tested if you have symptoms or believe there is a chance you might have been exposed.

“We are thankful to everyone in the county for helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings, wearing face coverings, and staying home when sick or exposed to a positive case,” Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said. “These numbers are encouraging, but we need to continue to do our part to protect our families and our community. We also need increased testing to keep our positivity rate down while new case numbers drop.”

Today, Malheur County remained at the Extreme Risk level of the state’s updated county risk assessment, based on new case counts from Jan. 24 to Feb. 6. Lower case counts could help Malheur County drop into a lower risk level, but only if the test positivity rate remains below 10%. It is currently at 7.7%, but the rate of testing has continued to decline over time.

“Frequent and continued testing helps us to not only reduce the spread of the virus, particularly by those who are asymptomatic, but also keep test positivity rates down. We need positivity rates and new case counts to remain low so that we can move out of Extreme Risk, get our county businesses back up and running, and our lives back to normal,” Poe said.

The next update of county risk levels will occur on Feb. 26 and be based on data from Feb. 7 through Feb. 20.

Malheur County’s declining new case numbers might be partly attributable to local vaccination efforts, Poe said. To date, more than 5,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the county, although some of them are not counted toward the state’s total because they were given to people who work in the county but live in Idaho. That number includes first and second doses. Statewide, more than 649,000 doses of vaccine – Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech – have been distributed.

As of today, COVID-19 has infected a reported 3,299 Malheur County residents and claimed the lives of 56.

MCHD offers free drive-up COVID-19 testing by appointment four days a week at the MCHD office:

  • Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Wednesdays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 1-3 p.m.

For an appointment or more information, call 541-889-7279.

Testing is also available at Rite Aid and through several health care providers, including Valley Family Health Care and Snake River Pediatrics.

For more information on Malheur County COVID-19 data, visit https://malheurhealth,org/covid-19-cases

Health Department promotes increased testing in light of outbreaks, positivity rate increase

The Malheur County Health Department will offer free drive-up COVID-19 testing this Friday, Feb. 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Vale High School. Everyone is eligible; no symptoms, exposure or documentation are required. The event is in response to an outbreak of positive COVID-19 cases in Malheur County, particularly at Vale High School.

Due to the drive-through nature of the event, test result forms will not be available; however, people who test positive will be notified. Additionally, all negative and positive student test results will be shared with Vale School District administration.

In addition to outbreaks affecting Malheur County schools and businesses, the state’s most recent county metrics report prompted a call for increased testing as the positivity rate is on an upward trend over the past four weeks.

“The report released by the Oregon Health Authority yesterday shows that our case count per 100,000 people has dropped from 499.5 to 415.2, which is great, but it also shows that our test positivity rate has jumped from 14.3% to 16.1%. That’s a significant increase,” MCHD Director Sarah Poe said. “We know that the way to get that positivity rate down is to do more testing. You can help slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce the positivity rate, and get the county open again by getting tested.”

TESTING AVAILABILITY IN MALHEUR COUNTY

Malheur County Health Department offers free COVID-19 testing by appointment four days a week at the MCHD office:

  • Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Wednesdays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 1-3 p.m. (except Feb. 5)

For an appointment or more information, call 541-889-7279.

Valley Family Health Care is offering COVID-19 testing every Monday in February, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Treasure Valley Community College baseball field in Ontario. Anyone requesting a test will be tested. There are no out-of-pocket costs, and test results are available in 15 minutes. Call VFHC at 208-452-6661 for more information.

Snake River Pediatrics Clinic, call for information, 541-216-6556.

Rite Aid, appointment required, CALL 541-889-3390.

More information is available at COVID Testing in Oregon.

COVID-19 testing available in Malheur County

Malheur County Health Department offers BinaxNOW drive-up testing to people who live or work in Malheur County and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. There is no out-of-pocket cost and no insurance required. Test results are available in 15 minutes.

Testing is available by appointment on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Call 541-889-7279 to schedule.

Valley Family Health Care is offering COVID-19 testing every Monday through Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Treasure Valley Community College baseball field in Ontario. Anyone requesting a test will be tested. There are no out-of-pocket costs, and test results are available in 15 minutes. Call VFHC at 208-452-6661 for more information.

Snake River Pediatrics Clinic, call for information, 541-216-6556

Rite Aid, appointment required, 541-889-3390

More information is available at COVID Testing in Oregon.