Columbia County is showing promising signs of slowing the spread of COVID-19, according to Columbia County Public Health Director Michael Paul in his weekly report to Columbia County Commissioners on Wednesday, Sept. 2.
While cases have increased slightly, to 129 confirmed cases, currently only five individuals are infectious and in isolation, Paul said. So far, there has been one death reported and nine hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Paul.
Other public health indicators are also showing promising signs, Paul said. One is that active cases are down to eight, and the county is tracing most of the cases to known sources. They are also following up with 100% of cases within 24 hours. Only 0.4% of Emergency department visits were for COVID-like illness within the last week. The county is also below the 5% test positivity rate mark which is used for reopening schools.
Other numbers are not so promising, however, Paul said that the case count for last week was 15 cases per 100,000.
“We have to have that below 10 per 100,000 for three weeks in a row,” in order to open schools, Paul said.
Statewide numbers are showing similar trends.
“We’re definitely seeing a slight decline in places,” Paul said.
Oregon has the fifth lowest infection rate in the U.S., according to Paul, with 26,946 cases and 465 deaths as of Wednesday, Sept. 2. Of Oregon’s 36 counties, 17 of them have a case count of less than 30 per 100,000, Paul said.
Paul reiterated his advice from the prior week, in that people aged 20-30 were the group with the highest infection rates right now. He also said that people need to be cautious about their Labor Day celebration plans, because the OHA often seeks spikes in cases after the holidays.
“We’re asking particularly young people to protect their family members, use face coverings, congregate in small groups,” Paul said.
The county public health department is also fielding a lot of calls asking about learning pods. Paul said his guidance for learning pods is to follow basic guidelines, keep pods small, practice basic hygiene of avoiding touching one’s face, washing hands, and staying home if feeling ill.
County commissioners did not have any questions for Paul at the end of his report.
Also at the county commissioners' meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to finalize the legalization of Price Road. The road will be legalized where it currently stands, not as it appears in county records.
The decision follows a public hearing process concerning the Rainier area roadway.