The eight new COVID-19 cases that Baker County reported on Sunday are all residents at Meadowbrook Place assisted living community in Baker City, and none has shown symptoms, according to the Baker County Health Department.
Meadowbrook is the site of the county’s only outbreak, which started Aug. 9, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
The eight new cases bring the total to 24, including residents and staff. The Baker County Health Department would not say how many of the people who tested positive are residents and how many are employees.
The new cases resulted from weekly testing that Meadowbrook is doing as part of its response to the outbreak, according to the Health Department.
Two residents who tested positive have died, both in August, and they are listed as the county’s two COVID-19-related deaths by the OHA.
The other residents and staff who tested positive earlier in the outbreak are “recovering well,” according to a press release from the Health Department.
Other than the eight new cases at Meadowbrook, Baker County’s rate of new infections has continued a decline that dates to late August.
There has been only one other case in the county over the past week, reported on Saturday, said Holly Kerns, a public information officer for the county.
“The cases reported over the weekend are connected and are not considered sporadic cases, meaning they can be traced back to a specific source,” said Nancy Staten, administrator of the Health Department, referring to the Meadowbrook cases.
The outbreak, with 24 cases, accounts for almost one-third of Baker County’s 86 cases since the pandemic started in March.
More than half of the county’s cases since Aug. 9 — 24 of 41 — are part of the Meadowbrook outbreak.
Meanwhile the number of sporadic cases has dropped substantially over the past few weeks.
Health officials worry about sporadic cases because they can’t be traced to a source, which makes it more difficult to alert people who might have been in contact with an infected person.
According to OHA reports, Baker County had 13 sporadic cases, out of 16 total cases, during the period July 26-Aug. 8, and 10 of 23 cases were sporadic from Aug. 2-15.
But from Aug. 9-26, a period that coincides with the onset of the Meadowbrook outbreak, just four of the county’s 26 cases were sporadic, and for the period Aug. 16-29, only one of the county’s 17 cases was sporadic.
The rate of sporadic cases is one of the criteria state officials consider in determining whether a county is on the state’s COVID-19 “watch list.”
Gov. Kate Brown added Baker County to the watch list on July 15, and the governor removed the county from that list on Sept. 3.
The county’s total of 86 cases includes 78 county residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, and eight others who are “presumptive” cases, according to OHA statistics.
Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive for the virus but who were in close contact with somebody who did test positive.
According to the OHA, as of Wednesday three Baker County residents who tested positive are listed as “recovered.”
That number should rise steadily over the next few weeks because the state agency doesn’t count a person as recovered until 60 days have passed since symptoms dissipate.
All but one of Baker County’s cases — the first was reported on May 6 — have been recorded since late June, so the 60-day threshold is starting to arrive for many county residents who tested positive.