According to the office of Gov. Kate Brown, counties entering Phase One must stay there for at least three weeks to see if more contact between people in the community leads to major—or even minor—outbreaks. The requirements for moving on to Phase Two are basically the same as the first time around: The County must demonstrate an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and document successful contact tracing campaigns.
Deschutes County is failing one important metric. The county’s case count cannot rise by more than 5% over the last seven days. Instead Deschutes county’s case count rose by 100%, meaning the county’s cases doubled week over week, according to a presentation by Morgan Emerson, the county’s health department spokesperson. Case counts jumped from 11 one week to 22 cases the week after.
While this may sound like a lot, the county regularly reports only a few cases a day, so a 100% “spike” shows up as a mere blip on chart that shows daily positives over the last few months, Emerson explained during Monday’s presentation.
“In this case, we saw a significant increase of cases during the week of May 18 through May 24,” Emerson clarified in an email to the Source. “[These were] individuals who had attended a family or social gatherings and had a close contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.”
Emerson expects case counts to flatten out again when she compares the weekly totals on Thursday. During the week before, contact tracers tracked a few isolated outbreaks that spread during multiple social gatherings. As the county continues to ramp up testing, it means health officials have the ability to see the bigger picture, another thing the state takes into consideration.
Emerson said the county’s updated data, which will be released Thursday, will be in line with most of the State’s requirements.
State and local media continue to call out Deschutes County for ignoring the state’s requirement to have 30 contact tracers ready to pounce in the event of a local surge. The county counters with the argument that it has traced 95% of new cases within 24 hours. Emerson told the Deschutes County Commissioners that the health department will have more public health employees hired and trained as tracers and should have 15 tracers in all by the end of June.
Check out the county’s full application below: