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Benton County Added To Coronavirus Watch List

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Benton County was added to Oregon’s coronavirus watch list Friday.

Being on the watch list doesn’t affect the types of businesses that can be open, or the size of gatherings in the county. The county remains in Phase 2 of Gov. Kate Brown's re-opening plan. But it does means that cases are spreading more quickly.

Benton County spokesperson Alyssa Rash said it’s not just the number of cases that’s a concern. “We’re specifically seeing a higher number of sporadic cases," she said in a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiJ1Tk_4tNY">posted to social media Thursday. "Sporadic cases are cases without a clear epidemiological link to a known case. And this is otherwise known as community spread.”

It’s unclear whether the additional community spread is related to the return of Oregon State University students to campus. OSU is set to release the first results from its random testing of students, faculty and staff next week.

Benton is now one of three counties on the state watch list. The others are Clatsop and Malheur.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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