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Pandemic Update

The Oregon Health Authority reports Columbia County's first death related to the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 has claimed eight more lives in Oregon, including a Columbia Columbia resident, raising the state’s death toll to 383, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

OHA also reported 294 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, August 13, bringing the state total to 22,300.

Oregon’s 381st COVID-19 death is a 55-year-old man in Columbia County who tested positive on August 7 and died on August 9 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

The OHA reported Thursday that Columbia County had a total of 104 COVID-19 cases.

“We send our condolences to the family and want to assure the community that we in Columbia County are committed to keeping our citizens safe from COVID-19 as we continue to move forward through this pandemic,” Columbia County Board of Commission Chair Alex Tardif said.

Columbia County Public Health Director Michael Paul said the death should remind residents of the reality that the virus is present and spreading in the community. The most recent indicators released by the state show Columbia County had a 60% increase in new cases during the week of August 2 - August 8, and half of those cases were not traced to a known source, according to Paul.

"Statewide data indicates large outbreaks have contributed a diminishing proportion of recent cases, and sporadic cases - or those not linked to another case - have increased," Paul said. "An increase in sporadic cases is consistent with community spread. Although recent data and state announcements indicate there is a leveling of transmission statewide, the virus continues to spread locally. It continues to cause loss of life in Oregon. We urge residents to continue to protect the people in their household, as well as their fellow community members: wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands frequently."

Still, Columbia’s case rate remains below the statewide rate and case rate across the metro area, according to Paul.

“Our lower case rate is likely due to a lower population density and less travel into Columbia County," Paul said. "We have also been able to trace contacts effectively, and we urge people to continue to answer the phone when we call. The large majority of residents we have contacted want to do the right thing. People have cooperated, which allows us to identify additional locations and worksites where people may have been exposed, and then to notify individuals and request that they quarantine.”

The new cases reported on August 13 are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (5), Clackamas (14), Columbia (1), Crook (1), Deschutes (4), Hood River (2), Jackson (16), Jefferson (13), Josephine (2), Klamath (2), Lane (7), Lincoln (7), Linn (4), Malheur (12), Marion (35), Morrow (6), Multnomah (84), Polk (6), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (20), Union (2), Wasco (2), Washington (36), and Yamhill (9).

Additional statewide information concerning COVID-19-related demographics and information about positive cases can be found on the Oregon Health Authority's website at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.

General questions about COVID-19 can be answered by calling 2-1-1. Questions about your specific medical needs should be directed to your health care provider. If you cannot find the information you need via the website and number provided here, call Columbia County Public Health at 503-397-7247.

Follow daily pandemic reports here online with in-depth articles in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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