For the past two weeks, 26% of tests for COVID-19 have come back positive in Malheur County.
That's a startling number. By comparison, that's higher than the positivity rate of any U.S. state. Texas, a state experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the U.S., is currently seeing a positive test rate just under 25%.
The COVID-19 case counts in Malheur County are also high. Malheur has a case rate equivalent to 2,656.8 cases per 100,000 people. That's lower than Arizona, but higher than Louisiana, according to data compiled by The New York Times, which shows those two states with the highest rates of COVID-19 in the country since the pandemic began.
Today, Gov. Kate Brown opted to move the county back to Phase 1, starting Monday, Aug. 17. That decision will require recreational sports, swimming pools, and events and venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades to close.
"Over the past month, COVID-19 cases in Malheur County have risen so much that restrictions must be put back in place or we risk further illnesses and death in the region," said Gov. Brown. "I know this change is difficult, but immediate action is necessary in order to reduce the spread of the disease and protect all those who call Malheur County home."
But the governor's order will leave bars, salons and dine-in restaurants open.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has advised the governor to close bars and gyms in the county since July 14 because of the high rate of cases, WW reported this week. (The governor ordered Umatilla County back to staying at home beginning July 31, but has not moved on that advice for Malheur and Morrow counties.)