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Increase comes after weeks of no new cases in the county, as new daily cases increase statewide

After nearly a month without any new cases of the infectious disease, Columbia County announced that it had added six cases over the course of a week.

On May 13, just two days before the county entered Phase 1 of reopening, there had only been 16 confirmed cases county-wide. But on June 8, the county announced the 17th case, and over the course of the following week, five more cases were identified, bringing the total to 22.

The county has sporadically released the age and gender of some of those cases, but has declined to provide the same information for other cases.

The county's testing rate has stayed slightly below the statewide average. As of Tuesday, roughly 398 of every 10,000 residents had been tested, while the statewide average was 424 of every 10,000 residents that had been tested.

However, the percentage of tests that came back positive has decreased as testing has become more readily available. Just 1% of the tests in Columbia County have come back positive. Statewide, 3.4% of tests have returned positive results.

The number of new cases each day statewide has increased throughout the month.

Oregon's COVID-19 case count jumped by 278 on Tuesday, making it the highest one-day increase since the virus was first tracked in the state.

State health officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon that an outbreak in Union County was tied to a church in the area. Many of the cases were linked to a church that had held services in the months prior, as well as a wedding and graduation ceremony, each with more than 100 people.

As of Tuesday, Union County had 119 active cases, the highest in the state, following the previous day's tally of 99, which also pegged the rural Oregon county as the source of a recent outbreak.

Last week, the Health Authority said the spike in positive cases was tied to the increase in availability of testing, more robust contact tracing and active monitoring of close contacts of confirmed cases. The state also noted "workplace outbreaks" as another contributing factor in the increase.

The state reported more than five cases of workplace outbreaks, but none have been reported at workplaces in Columbia County.

The state also reports outbreaks at nursing homes. No outbreaks have been reported at facilities in Columbia County.

Addressing questions from reporters Tuesday afternoon, Philip Schmidt, with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said the state has not traced any outbreaks back to recent protests.

"We are definitely in the window now where we would be seeing a spike in cases from protests," Schmidt said. "We have not seen any significant numbers of any people attending protests prior to coming down with COVID."

Following a wave of heightened cases since June 11, Oregon also reported two deaths on Tuesday.

As of June 16, Oregon has reported 6,098 COVID-19 cases and 182 deaths.


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