OHA report shows warnings to counties about reopening

MEDFORD, Ore.– The Oregon Health Authority has released new data showing many counties are not meeting the requirements set by the state to protect residents from coronavirus during the reopening.

After Governor Kate Brown announced 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties could reopen for Phase 1, over half of them have not met the benchmark and are failing at least one of the metrics.

The state is using six indicators as monitors for how a county is handling coronavirus amidst the reopening effort. Such indicators include timeliness of contact tracing, hospitalizations, and the growth in cases over a seven day period.

While these indicators act a warning sign and are part of the state’s consideration for who can continue to push forward in reopening or must step back, some counties say there are issues with how the data is being measured.

“The way the state is reporting them is a little bit misleading,” said Tanya Phillips, health promotion manager for Jackson County who failed one indicator for not being able to trace a case to any known source. The data measures in percentages and marks 100 percent of the county’s cases failed tracing efforts in the last seven days.

However, Phillips says when OHA pulled the data there was only one case and since then, the county has successfully traced it to a known source.

“I know for Jackson County it says 100 percent so I think when people see that they’re not really understanding what the denominator and numerator is,” said Phillips.

Phillips says it may have been a data entry error between the state and the county that should be fixed soon. On Friday, the county recorded another three cases, two of which were confirmed, another is pending testing results.

The county says it’s hard to tell how these cases may affect the indicators and it may depend on what happens over the next seven days until OHA updates the data again.

Public health officials and even OHA say though, these indicators won’t reflect the final decisions. It will be included with other statistics and data to help inform the state’s recommendations.

“While it’s something for us to pay attention to, I don’t think it’s something we really need to fret over in the long term,” said Valerie Lane, public information officer for Klamath County Public Health.

Klamath county failed two indicators but Lane says the data is correct but it’s based on just one case. There weren’t any new cases recorded by Friday morning either.

Still, Lane says things are changing day by day. This week could be very telling on how reopening has been for counties especially after 14 days (the average incubation period of the virus) since the reopening began.

To review the whole report, click here.


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