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A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

A 75-year-old Baker City man who died on April 3 is the 13th county resident to die after testing positive for COVID-19, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported Friday, April 9.The man, who had underlying medical conditions, tested positive on March 24. He died at his home, according to the OHA.

This was the county’s first COVID-19-related death since March 11, when an 81-year-old man died three days after testing positive.

“We’re really saddened to receive this report,” Nancy Staten, director of the Baker County Health Department, said in a press release. “All of us here at the Health Department send our condolences to his family and friends.”

Baker County’s recent surge in new COVID-19 cases has slowed over the past five days, with 14 reported from April 4-8. There were 36 new cases during the previous five-day period, and 79 from March 21-April 3.

This winter, that total would have moved the county from the lowest of the state’s four risk levels to the highest, and imposed the tighest restrictions on businesses. But in mid-March the state added a two-week “caution period” for counties in some cases, which keeps them at the current risk level for two weeks.

Baker County will remain at the lowest risk level through at least April 22. Its risk level starting April 23 will be based on case numbers and the positivity rate from April 4-17.

“The caution period is saving us from having to go backwards, and our best shot at avoiding a jump at the end of April is for everyone to do what they can to keep everyone else healthy and get our cases numbers down again,” said Mark Bennett, Baker County commissioner.

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