PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon issued an update to its county "watch list" for coronavirus on Thursday, removing two counties from the list while adding three more. Lake County, the only county in southern Oregon to make the list in its first iteration, remains there.
Governor Kate Brown first announced the watch list in early July, ahead of Independence Day celebrations that public health officials suspected would lead to increased spread of COVID-19. The original list consisted of eight counties including Lake.
Lake County was the last in southern Oregon to see an emergence of positive cases, and still has relatively few compared to neighboring counties. However, public health officials have indicated that the primary impetus for watch list status comes from the ratio of untraced COVID-19 cases as a result of community spread, referred to as "sporadic" cases.
"Specific markers of this rapid community spread include when there is a sporadic case rate of 50 or more per 100,000 people in the last two weeks and the county has had more than five sporadic cases in the last two weeks," Brown's office said.
When a county is placed on the watch list, Brown's office says, the Oregon Health Authority increases its monitoring and brings in additional resources for case investigations and contact tracing.
Brown announced Thursday that Lincoln and Union counties have now been removed from the watch list. Three counties — Hood River, Marion, and Multnomah — have been added, bringing the current list to 10.
“I want to applaud county officials and community members in Lincoln and Union Counties for their diligent work in bringing the spread of COVID-19 under control in these areas. Your leadership shows that we can reduce the spread of this disease if we work together,” said Brown.
Union County made the unprecedented step of voluntarily rolling back to Phase I reopening status following a major outbreak linked to a church in La Grande. Lincoln County opted to remain in Phase I instead of moving on to Phase II.
Brown's office said that those steps — in addition to increased contact tracing, case investigation, and outreach — resulted in a reduction of community spread, prompting graduation from the watch list.
“This is also a good reminder to all Oregonians — especially to those who live in Watch List counties — of the importance of remaining vigilant," the Governor said. "I urge all Oregonians to keep practicing physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and practicing good hygiene. Your choices matter, and we are truly all in this together.”
The watch list now includes the following counties: Baker, Hood River, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Umatilla, and Wasco.