The decision of Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon on Thursday pushing Umatilla County back to home visit status was made after learning about the high alarming coronavirus spread in Hermiston estimated by researchers at State University of Oregon.
A random sample of Hermiston residents last Saturday and Sunday found that 41 out of 471 people – or 8.7% – tested positive for coronavirus.
The researchers subsequently calculated that the current prevalence was 17%, or about 3,000 active infections in a city of about 18,000 residents.
“This study confirms what they feared based on weeks of disturbing data from the Oregon Health Authority: The coronavirus has spread across Hermiston and is threatening the entire community,” Brown said in a statement.
Brown learned of the study’s results Thursday at a briefing from top leaders at the Oregon Health Authority, who also shared other state-collected points showing persistent problems in Umatilla County. .
Coronavirus cases have been rampant in Umatilla County for a month and a half, forcing it to be the fourth-largest case in Oregon despite having the 13 most resident residents. . Cases are also rising in neighboring Morrow County, prompting Brown to return to the Phase 1 reopening state.
The growth of cases in the Hermiston area was well documented before the last study, led by the University of Oregon as part of its months-long project that began in Corvallis before went to live in Bend and Newport. State data showed that Hermiston’s code number 97838 was regularly among the highest number of new cases since June.
“Our results indicate that the virus is extremely widespread in Hermiston and more prevalent than previous data indicated,” Ben Dalziel, assistant professor and co-director of the project, said in a statement.
It is unclear how many of the 41 people who tested positive during the OSU study were already identified as positive testing and included in numbers collected by the Oregon Health Authority. The state has identified 1,902 Umatilla County residents with confirmed or suspected infections.
Dalziel told The Oregonian / OregonLive that participants who submit test samples will not be asked if they have already been tested or if they want to test positive for COVID-19.
But researchers wonder about the symptoms, and four out of five Hermiston residents who tested positive during the OSU project did not report having virus indicators. Participants are given a swab to collect a sample from their nose.
The researchers also collected samples from the sewer in Hermiston, and a Boardman in Morrow County, to monitor the spill. Those also showed high levels of the virus.
Hermiston mayor David Drotzmann expressed alarm at the findings.
“The results of this study are a significant warning,” he said in a statement. “We now have a clearer picture of how many people are carrying this disease without knowing it, and of how it is spreading from family to family, from family to home.”
– Brad Schmidt; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt
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