By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
A 63-year-old Crook County woman is Central Oregon’s first potentially COVID-related death, after returning from a visit to California and an encounter with four people who had tested positive.
Official test results are pending, but Crook County health officials are considering it a presumptive positive case based on the information they have.
“It definitely makes us pause,” said Vicky Ryan, a Crook County spokeswoman. “Especially with someone we classified as ‘on the mend.’ So this is very concerning that we’d be the first county in Central Oregon – with so few cases – that we’d have the first death.”
The Oregon Health Authority said the woman became symptomatic on July 1 after close contact with a confirmed case and died in her home on Wednesday.
Officials say she was visiting her second home in California when she came in contact with some people who tested positive.
She had no underlying medical conditions.
Ryan said she showed some minor symptoms and was tested on Tuesday, adding that that the woman did not have contact with anyone else in the county upon her return from traveling.
The woman, who’s identity has not been released, was reportedly feeling better on Tuesday and “doing fine” when health officials visited her at home to give her a goodie bag with sanitizer, masks and other items to take care of herself.
They were then contacted on Wednesday by law enforcement that the woman had died.
Ryan said there has been a false sense of security in Prineville and surrounding areas because the case counts had been so low. Three new cases were reported in Crook County Thursday, bringing its total to 17.
And there’s been resistance to social distancing and mask-wearing mandates handed down by the governor’s office.
“This strengthens our message to our community that this is real,” she said. “This is very active and doesn’t show any signs of slowing.”
Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority on Thursday reported six new deaths to bring the death toll to 230.
The OHA also reported a record one-day total of 389 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 11,188
The recent increase in cases is attributed to workplace outbreaks and community spread. Newly diagnosed cases are being interviewed now, the OHA said.
Deschutes County reported five new cases to bring its total to 229; 179 patients are considered recovered. St. Charles is reporting nine patients are currently hospitalized, one is in ICU and on a ventilator.
Jefferson County reported eight new cases, bringing its total to 145.