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Governor's office announced that county has been placed on the state's COVID-19 'County Watch List'

PMG FILE PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown added Marion County to the state's watch list as COVID cases have spread rapidly across the community.Marion County has been added to the state's COVID-19 County Watch List, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office announced Thursday.

Marion joined Multnomah and Hood River counties in being added to the list, while Lincoln and Union counties were dropped from the list, which now consists of 10 counties. The other seven counties on the list are Baker, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Wasco.

A news release from the governor's office said counties are placed on the list when data show COVID-19 spreading quickly and public health officials are unable to identify specific sources of the spread, which creates a potentially dangerous dynamic.

Press Secretary Liz Merah noted that specific markers of this rapid community spread include the recording of a sporadic case rate of 50 or more per 100,000 people in the previous two weeks, and when the county has experienced more than five sporadic cases within the past two weeks. Sporadic cases are defined as cases that cannot be traced to a source, thereby indicating community spread.

Counties remain on the watch list for a minimum of three weeks, and are removed only after sporadic case rates drop below the defined thresholds.

Marion County, which has an estimated population of about 358,170, recorded 58 confirmed and presumptive cases on July 24, its second highest single-day recording next to 61 cases on July 11. Oregon Health Authority data cited daily county numbers between July 25-30 consecutively as 52, 30, 26, 40, 29 and 38.

Marion County's COVID-19 dashboard breaks down cases by ZIP code. In Marion County between July 16-29, Woodburn's 97071 ZIP code recorded the most cases overall with 123, which is an incident rate (IR) of 417.5 per 100,000 people.

Other breakdowns include Brooks (97305) with 77 cases for a 178.6 IR; Gervais (97026) 21, 463.8 IR; Hubbard (97032) 14, 272.9 IR; Aurora (97002) 7, 120.8 IR; St. Paul (97137) 2, 144.9 IR; Mount Angel (97362) 1, 22.8 IR.

Other relatively high numbers were recorded in Salem's Central District, 97301, with 68 cases, 122.6 IR and Keizer, 97303, with 58, 142.7 IR.

Merah said the County Watch List is established to prioritize resources and assistance to counties that are seeing the broadest spread of COVID-19. When a county is placed on the list, Oregon Health Authority increases monitoring and communication and deploys additional technical assistance and resources, such as epidemiological support, case investigation and contact tracing help.

Brown commended Lincoln and Union counties for driving down their pandemic numbers.

Union County, which has a population just shy of 27,000, experienced an outbreak in mid-June when it recorded 218 cases over a two-day period. OHA reports the county had just two cases over the past week.

Lincoln County, with a population of roughly 50,000, also drove its confirmed and presumptive cases down to single digits, recording six over the past week. The county experienced a spike in early June that included a single-day record 61 cases.

"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," Brown said.

"This is also a good reminder to all Oregonians — especially to those who live in watch list counties — of the importance of remaining vigilant," she added. "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."

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