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Live updates: Oregon updates its list of counties to watch

Oregon has updated its watchlist of counties reporting concerning coronavirus levels, with some areas of the state now receiving higher scrutiny. The list documents which counties have the broadest spread of COVID-19 cases, and allows the state to prioritize resources and increase monitoring.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday that Hood River, Marion and Multnomah counties have been added to the watchlist. There are now 10 counties on the list. The other counties are: Baker, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Wasco.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, people in counties on the state’s watchlist should assume that COVID-19 is spreading quickly where they live. “Think of the watchlist as a yellow light: Proceed with caution,” the agency wrote in an email.

Union County, which had moved to Phase 2 of reopening before an outbreak at a church was linked to hundreds of positive COVID-19 tests, agreed to move back into Phase 1, which comes with greater restrictions. With that change, it was removed from the state’s watchlist. Lincoln County, where a June outbreak was linked to a seafood processor, and which has opted to stay in Phase 1, was also removed from the list. Both Lincoln and Union counties have reported only a small trickle of new coronavirus diagnoses over the past two weeks.

“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 in a statement.

COVID-19 has claimed five more lives in Oregon, bringing the pandemic’s death toll in the state to 316, health officials reported Thursday.

The Oregon Health Authority also reported 416 new confirmed and presumptive cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total diagnosed with the virus to 18,131 since the start of the pandemic.

Most new cases were in Umatilla County, which reported 101 diagnoses, but health officials said that apparent surge reflects a delay in processing electronic laboratory reports — diagnoses had been lower in the county for several preceding days as a result.

Other counties with higher numbers of COVID-19 diagnoses were Washington County with 63, Multnomah County with 61 and Marion County with 38.

Clark County, Washington, health officials Thursday reported two more deaths to the coronavirus, a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s, bringing total deaths in the county to 39.

Officials also reported 29 new positive test results, bringing the number of Clark County residents diagnosed with the virus to 1,756.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of Health shows 54,985 cumulative cases of COVID-19 statewide since the pandemic began and 1,555 deaths.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting