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Deschutes County: Recent COVID-19 case rise tied to local gatherings, not visitors

Redmond area sees case rise; county's new case count dropped late in week

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County public health officials are asking Central Oregonians to stay close to home this weekend, to curb the spread of COVID-19, while noting a recent rise in cases was largely tied to local multi-household gatherings -- not visitors -- and pre-date the Phase 1 reopening a week ago.

The Oregon Health Authority issued its first weekly Public Health Indicators dashboard on Wednesday -- coincidentally, the day Deschutes County reported its highest daily count, of nine new cases. There had been seven the previous day.

Deschutes County was the only county with three red X's -- an uptrend in positive tests in the past week, along with an increase in new cases of more than 5% and more than 30% of new cases not traced to a known source.

However, the county got green checks in two other areas -- keeping the percentage of Emergency Department visits for COVID-like illness below 1.5% -- in fact, it's been 0.5% statewide -- and 100% of case follow-ups initiated within 24 hours during the week.

Since then, Deschutes County reported only one new case on Thursday and actually saw no new cases and a reduction of one case on Friday, after OHA determined an earlier reported case did not meet the COVID-19 definition.

Morgan Emerson, preparedness coordinator with Deschutes County Health Services, told NewsChannel 21, "We do know our increase in cases is significantly tied to people having multi-household gatherings -- family or social gatherings -- in 18 of 25 of the new cases."

"So what we are seeing is an increase in cases associated with family and social gatherings -- so things like barbecues, celebrations, getting together with extended family members, and seeing a risk there with more COVID-19 cases," Morgan said. "So most of our cases have been associated with an event like that."

"The increase in cases we saw this week are largely associated with multiple households getting together, and prior to entering Phase 1 reopening," she said. "The majority of our cases in the past week have been associated with a known contact with someone who is COVID-19-positive."

Emerson also noted that OHA ZIP code data, also released by the state on a weekly basis, "shows a rise of cases in Redmond residents."

"Some of this rise is due to multi-household gatherings," she said. "We have seen similar trends of cases associated with attending family and social gatherings in other areas of Deschutes County as well."

Emerson said the county will need the public's help in meeting criteria for the next phase of reopening. That includes understanding the risk associated with Memorial Day weekend and trying not to attend multi-family gatherings in an attempt to avoid spreading the virus.

"Even if your're healthy, going to a large Memorial Day barbecue, a large event, many extended households getting together -- this isn't the year," she said.

Bend / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Deschutes County / Health / Top Stories
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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. “However, the county got green checks in two other areas — keeping the percentage of Emergency Department visits for COVID-like illness below 1.5% — in fact, it’s been 0.5% statewide”

    Soooo- isn’t this how “herd immunity” is developed ? Which would explain the “green checks” ?? Which adds more evidence that social distancing could actually be doing more harm than good ???

    1. Nope. You’re the one that keeps saying this is nothing more than the flu and herd immunity doesn’t work with the flu because the virus continually mutates. Next.

    2. don’t get yourself sucked into that myth of “herd immunity” – it takes a little work, but educate yourself about how this virus works based on what is actually known right now – also, some in depth reading into the 1918 pandemic would be very helpful for perspective – it will take some work, but isn’t that worth it to avoid spreading misinformation? – wouldn’t hurt to look into who is funding this “herd immunity” scenario either, and what they stand to gain from its promotion – better to do the hard work, and be informed….

  2. My next door neighbors and I sit out in driveway, properly distanced, and have a couple beers and shoot the bull. Actually, better than a tavern.

    1. that sounds great – don’t let the usual haters on this forum tear you down – they just wish any of their neighbors would have anything to do with them

  3. I have no doubt that there have been multi-household gatherings, but seriously, if anyone thinks that people haven’t been traveling here from the valley this entire time, they’re ignorant. Don’t know where they’re staying, but there has been a constant influx of people from the West since March. The cities have been allowing short term rentals, hotels are open, and people have not stayed home just because there was not an official “phase 1 opening” announced. Discouraging non-essential travel is not enforceable.

      1. Spend a little time driving on 97 today and you might be singing a different song. Almost every license plate coming back from WS yesterday was Washington.

    1. Agreed, people from closed counties in the valley are flocking here because they hear we have opened back up. And also the number of out of state plates I saw yesterday was disheartening. The same people that would make travel plans during a pandemic are the same that won’t be wearing masks or distancing. The local government and state are doing nothing tangible to discourage travel, other than saying they discourage it.

  4. shhhh, just let it happen. Don’t fight it. The virus is going to spread, it cannot be stopped. Stop trying to fight the “fall down the stairs” just hope for the best at the bottom

    1. Its weird we actually have a proven way to stop bat flu and yet people are seriously suggesting we dont use it- that puts blood on your hands

    2. good thing you weren’t around in 1918 – you can choose to “fall down the stairs” by yourself, but if your actions impede other’s ability to breathe and continue living… not ok

  5. So tired of the fear mongers looking for anything to fear about. You are just mad that you don’t have the guts to go outside. Stay home stay scared

    1. you are confused – fear lies in those who can’t handle what is happening and create some weird alternative that suits their selfish perspective – trying to fling your fear at others, like poop off your shoes, isn’t going to work – stop being so silly

  6. Stay-home orders that extend too long could cause the U.S. “irreparable damage,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Friday.

    Strict crackdowns on large gatherings and other orders, such as for home quarantines, were needed when the coronavirus first hit the nation, but those rules can now begin to be lifted in many parts of the country, Fauci said during an interview on CNBC.

  7. This story has some truth to it. Last week I saw a house on 33rd street in Redmond have a drive by birthday party and everyone who drove by got off their motorcycles and hugged each other.Kind of like not wearing a mask correctly in public.

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