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Like Oregon, case numbers are up, but hospitalizations, deaths remain modest

Hello Columbia County.

As many of us return to work following the Fourth of July holiday, we should note that Columbia County just passed an important milestone — it's been more than a month since the county entered Phase 2 of Oregon's reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MILES VANCEColumbia County kicked off its Phase 2 reopening back on June 6, so now, just over one month later, the question is this — how are we doing?

In general, the answer is this — we're doing pretty darned well.

Here's the numbers, percentages and rankings related to Columbia County's performance in Phase 2 so far.

As of July 6, Columbia County had seen just 42 COVID-19 cases total since the state began recording them back on Jan. 26. That means that the county is averaging eight cases for every 10,000 residents (Columbia County has 52,747 residents); that gives Columbia County the 14th-lowest case rate among Oregon's 36 counties.

Of those 42 cases, 26 have occurred since Phase 2 reopening began and five of those 26 cases have recovered thus far. The previous 16 cases in Columbia County — those which occurred before Phase 2 reopening — all previously recovered, meaning that Columbia County has seen exactly half of its COVID-19 cases recover so far. That gives Columbia County the fourth-best recovery rate among Oregon counties.

Through July 6, the county has seen just 37 positive COVID-19 tests and 2,969 negative tests — a 1% positive test rate that ties Columbia County for the fourth-lowest rate of positive tests among the state's counties.

Best of all, Columbia County hasn't seen one COVID-19 death yet.

What that means right now is that Columbia County residents have been doing their part to keep COVID-19 cases down — wearing facemasks when proper/required and honoring social distancing guidelines — and keep businesses open.

So let's pause for just a moment to say "Way to go Columbia County." Keep being smart and keep the reopening moving toward Phase 3.

Statewide, the information is interesting, — and much of it good, too. While the number of positive COVID-19 cases has indeed spiked since late May — Oregon averaged 50-60 cases per day in March, April and May, but have been risen to approximately 170 per day since late May — hospitalizations have actually fallen since the state's peak days in March.

Back in March, Oregon saw three days when 26 people were hospitalized each day, but since April 1, there hasn't been a single day with more than 16 hospitalizations and only four as high as 16. And since the last day with 16 hospitalizations (June 16), Oregon has averaged just 5.3 hospitalizations per day through July 3.

Also of note, the percentage of emergency room visits for the state attributed to COVID-19 have dropped precipitously. That number hit a high of 6.3% back in the first half of March, but that rate has now fallen below 1.5% (the percent Oregon typically sees for flu-like illness, outside the May-September flu season) and stayed there since April 18.

The demographics of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon are telling, too. While the 20-29 age group has accounted for the most COVID-19 cases in Oregon — 2,137 as of June 5 — only 3% of those cases have required hospitalization and none have died.

Age and the addition of certain underlying medical conditions continue to be the factors most associated with death from COVID-19. In Oregon, which had seen 208 deaths as of June 5, 102 of those had come from the 80+ age group, 59 from the 70-79 age group and 41 from the 60-69 age group.

In total, COVID-19 deaths from the 60+ age groups account for 97% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state.

While every one of those deaths is a tragedy, we have learned which residents are the most vulnerable and we'll therefore be better able to protect those people. At the same time, doctors and scientists have learned a lot about how to treat COVID-19 and their efforts play a great part in the continuing decrease in deaths, in Columbia County, Oregon and across the country.


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