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Crook County sees rise in COVID-19 cases; per-capita rate is highest in state

(Updated: adding video, comments from public health director)

"We're still drastically increasing each week in new cases"

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In the week of Oct. 10-16, Crook County reported 200 new COVID-19 cases and a 19.6% positive test rate, which translates to 853 cases per 100,000 people.

The county has set a record in daily COVID-19 cases three times in recent weeks and has been in double-digit figures for some time.

There are many ways to measure and interpret the data -- for example, the Mayo Clinic does a rolling 7-day average for its interactive map of Oregon, which shows Crook County averaging 22 cases per day -- but due to its relatively small population, that's 102 cases per 100,000 people, currently highest in the state, followed by Wheeler and Harney counties.

"We're still drastically increasing each week in new cases," says Katie Plumb, director of public health for the Crook County's Health Department.

She says the numbers send a conflicting message and prompt a question -- why are cases so high, when Oregon as a whole is seeing a decrease?

"It's so multi-faceted," Plumb told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday, when asked that question.

Plumb says relatively low vaccination rates, masking and distancing, and the more contagious Delta variant all play a role in the recent rise in cases.

As of now, only 50.5% of people in Crook County are vaccinated, which Plumb believes stems from low numbers at the beginning of the pandemic.

"I think it created a sense of security," Plumb said. "'You know, 'This isn't necessarily affecting us here', -- so we had a little bit of a slower uptake in vaccinations."

Plumbs says they've introduced mobile vaccination clinics, which travel around the community and meet people where they're at, rather than holding mass vaccination clinics.

And even though they're doing everything they can to curb the spread, Plumb says it's taking a toll on the community.

"We're all tired -- my staff are tired, our community is tired," she said.

"That's really difficult, when the reality is there's still a virus that is very much affecting the health of people in our community."

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus
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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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