COVID-19 test positivity rate and cases are rising

Janela Jones, right, from Nyssa, and Norma Cortes, left, from Caldwell, are both first-year nursing students at Treasure Valley Community College. As such, they were helping vaccinate patients at the Malheur County Health Department vaccination clinic at Four Rivers Cultural Center on April 8, while TVCC nursing instructor Amber Smith from Adrian (center) observed. Opportunities for COVID-19 vaccines continue today at Four Rivers Cultural Center and starting Friday at the fairgrounds for 8 days.

MALHEUR COUNTY

Malheur County’s COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates are on the rise, according to a weekly Risk Levels Summary released by the Governor’s Office this week. During the two-week period from March 28 to April 10, there were 24 new cases reported, for a case rate (number of cases per 100,000 people) of 74.9. The test positivity rate was 5.1%.

Both rates would qualify Malheur County, currently in the Lower Risk category, to move to Moderate Risk if they had occurred during the two weeks leading up to a Movement Week instead of a Warning Week, and if counties weren’t given a two-week caution period meant to keep those that moved down in risk level during the previous movement period from experiencing a yo-yo effect.

This week’s report shows an increase of 10 cases over the previous two-week period, from March 14-27, and a jump of almost 76% in the test positivity rate, which was previously 2.9%.

“These numbers are concerning, given the rise in cases throughout the country and the increase in the presence of variants in and around Oregon and Idaho,” Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said.

According to the state’s Vaccination Trends dashboard, Malheur County has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state, with 2,276.9 people out of 10,000 having received at least one dose. Umatilla County has the lowest with 2,166.5, and Lincoln County the highest with 4,526.7.

If Malheur County’s case count continues to increase, a higher risk level and the associated risk-reduction measures, such as lower limits on capacity at businesses and activities, are not far off.

City Manager Adam Brown, in the news release, urged people to prioritize vaccinations for “the sake of our business community and working families.”

The pause on Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines is not likely to impact Malheur County, where supply currently exceeds demand.

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