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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]

The number of COVID-19 cases in Baker County has dropped for the fourth straight week, down nearly 74% from the weekly record high in mid-September.

The county reported 37 new cases from Oct. 10-16, the lowest weekly total since July 18-24, when there were six cases.

Weekly case totals for the past month or so:

• Sept. 12-18 — 139 (the county’s highest weekly total during the pandemic)

• Sept. 19-25 — 86

• Sept. 26-Oct. 2 — 69

• Oct. 3-9 — 48

The number of COVID-19 tests done in the county has also declined over the past month, although not as rapidly as the number of infections.

Weekly test totals:

• Sept. 12-18 — 580; test positivity rate of 23.8%

• Sept. 19-25 — 383; test positivity rate of 22.2%

• Sept. 26-Oct. 2 — 370; test positivity rate of 19.2%

• Oct. 3-9 — 329; test positivity rate of 18.2%

• Oct. 10-16 — 224 (preliminary figure); test positivity rate of 10.7%

With three new cases reported on Sunday, Oct. 17, the first day of the new reporting week, October’s total was at 95 cases, an average of 5.6 per day.

September set records with 465 cases and a daily average of 15.5.

August ranks second in both categories, with 300 cases and a daily average of 10.

“We’re clearly pleased to see our case counts decline four weeks in a row, and the total cases for this week are less than half of what they were in the week ending September 25,” said Nancy Staten, director of the Baker County Health Department. “The Health Department is grateful to everyone in the community who is taking precautions to keep themselves and others healthy. The virus is still very much at large in our community, so everyone needs to keep their guard up — we’d really like to not see another spike before or during the holidays.”

Breakthrough cases

These infections in fully vaccinated people are accounting for an increasing percentage of the county’s total.

According to the most recent weekly report from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), 12 of Baker County’s 48 cases from Oct. 3-9 were breakthrough cases, a rate of 25%.

That’s an increase from the 23.2% breakthrough rate from Sept. 2-Oct. 2 (16 of 69 cases), 20.9% from Sept. 19-25 (18 of 86) and 10.8% from Sept. 12-18 (15 of 139).

Vaccination rate

Baker County’s vaccination rate is the sixth-lowest among Oregon’s 36 counties, with 52.4% of residents 18 and older vaccinated.

The statewide average is 76.3%.

Baker County’s seven-day running average of vaccine doses administered per day has dropped from 29 on Sept. 29 to 13 as of Oct. 14.

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