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Live updates: Oregon passes 19,000 coronavirus diagnoses

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Oregon, a 68-year-old Malheur County man who died a month after his diagnosis. That brings the pandemic’s death toll in the state to 325, health officials reported Sunday.

The Oregon Health Authority also reported 285 new confirmed and presumptive cases of the coronavirus Sunday, bringing the total diagnosed with the virus to 19,097 since the start of the pandemic.

The most new cases were in Marion County, which reported 53 diagnoses, followed by Multnomah County with 48, Washington County with 47 and Clackamas County with 26.

A door-to-door testing initiative calledTRACE (Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-Level Coronavirus Epidemics) in Hermiston found that nearly 17% of the city’s population is infected. That’s 169 infections per 1,000 people in the city.

Project co-director Ben Dalziel calls the infection numbers “very high,” the highest yet detected by TRACE after testing in several cities around the state.

“It’s not only high prevalence, but it’s widely distributed. And a majority of the participants who tested positive did not report symptoms. So widespread and largely asymptomatic,” Dalziel said.

The coronavirus pandemic may be contributing to the increase in human-caused fires around the state, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Through July, humans have caused 90% of fires this year in Oregon. That’s a jump from the yearly average of 70%, said ODF public information officer Jim Gersbach. Lightning is responsible for the remaining naturally occurring wildfires.

“The pandemic, if anything, has meant we’ve seen more human fires,” Gersbach said.

That trend has ODF on high alert as fire-prone conditions intensify. Last week the forestry agency raised the fire danger level to high (yellow) for most of western Oregon, except for four coastal counties. The department said extreme heat and dry conditions led to the high danger level.

The Oregon Health Authority issued a report analyzing pediatric COVID-19 cases in Oregon on Friday. It found that 1,755 cases, or 10% of all diagnoses in the state, were of children under age 18.

Children are far less likely to become severely ill after diagnosis, the state reported, with about 1.5% being hospitalized, compared to 9.7% of adults.

Half of all infected children were exposed by people in their households, compared to just one in five adults. Pediatric infection rates have been highest in Morrow, Jefferson and Union counties, the state reported.

Clark County, Washington, health officials Friday reported one more death to the coronavirus, a woman in her 70s with no underlying health conditions. She was the 40th person to die of COVID-19 in the Southwest Washington county. Officials also reported 22 new positive test results, bringing the number of Clark County residents diagnosed with the virus to 1,778.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of health shows 57,541 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed since the pandemic began, and 1,592 people in Washington have died from the virus.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Courtney Sherwood