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Deschutes County officials eye improvement related to COVID-19, continuing issues

Also discuss financial impacts on child care, non-COVID health issues

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --Deschutes County commissioners and health officials talked Wednesday about how the county appears to be showing signs of improvement related to COVID-19. However, they said there is still much work to be done, and continued caution is warranted.

Dr. George Conway, the county’s health services director, said the rate of positive cases in Deschutes County is not accelerating. He said as of Wednesday, 63 of the 80 people who tested positive have recovered from COVID-19. Commissioner Patty Adair said that is a good sign.

Justin Sivill, Summit Medical Group’s chief operating officer, said Summit is receiving a steady volume of 200 to 300 standard tests per week, with a three- to four-day turnaround for results. He said he hopes to get at least 100 rapid COVID-19 tests per week.

Sivill said he still wants to distribute tests to high-risk patients first, because of the limited supply.

“Our big concern right now is how many people have delayed care for things that aren’t related to COVID,” Sivill said. “I think, in our clinic, we’re starting to see a lot of the negative outcomes of that.”

Conway agreed.

The other problems we’re trying to beat back are syphilis, TB, gonorrhea, etc.,” Conway said. “None of them are kept at bay by COVID, so that means we’re accruing additional non-COVID problems.”

County commissioners said they may consider hiring additional testing and tracing staff to help prevent a rise in COVID-19 cases.

NeighborImpact and the city of Bend brought up the significant need for adequate child care in the county, especially during the pandemic.

Sheriff's Sgt. Nathan Garibay, the county’s emergency services manager, said there are 40 star-rated child care facilities in Deschutes County operating as “emergency child care centers.”

“The concern is that these have been operating and not meeting operational costs are at risk of losing these providers,” Garibay said. “That would add to the already-identified deficit in child care.”

Garibay, along with Carolyn Eagan, the city of Bend’s economic development manager, requested authorization to provide $200,000 to NeighborImpact for the support of child care providers during the pandemic.

“This is a matter of keeping the lights on, keeping cleaning supplies available for children, and making sure there are meals for these children,” Eagan said.

Commissioners acknowledged the need for funding, on the condition that the city of Bend match the grant. The county has not yet decided on a fixed dollar amount, but Eagan said the grants for each child care provider falls between $3,000 and $6,000, based on their needs.

Commissioners also discussed the short-term rental ban, which is set to expire next Friday, at the meeting.

Commissioner Tony DeBone said he supports lifting the ban, although he said he is unsure how short-term rentals could be affected by Gov. Kate Brown’s order discouraging non-essential travel. (The governor is releasing more details of reopening plans and guidelines at a news conference Thursday.)

During a discussion later Wednesday with Bend city councilors, Conway said he knows well the challenges faced in a community heavily dependent on tourism, but that based on where things stand now and the continued potential spread of the virus, "We certainly would recommend doing everything possible to delay having a large volume of visitors."

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / News / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. But but but you’ll kill people and/or increase the threat of death by opening back up if there’s even the smallest possibility of 1 person having covid virus in the county!!!!!!! How dare you!!!!

  2. The biggest continuing issue with the virus is because of all of the continued closures,
    and the absurd amount of people that think they need to live in a stupid mask,
    and it’s getting worse… I went to a couple stores yesterday and the number of people
    that were wearing masks was unbelievable. This is truly stupid… It’s gotten to the
    point where I think that people think it’s some kind of fashion statement. These people
    will never be able to get rid of their masks and live outside of their bubbles.

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