Ashley O'Toole

Union County returns to Phase 1 amid outbreak

LA GRANDE, Ore. (AP) — Union County commissioners voted Wednesday to recommend a return to the first phase of reopening countywide and also recommended that all residents wear face masks as the county deals with the largest COVID outbreak in the state.

The Observer reported the move comes as the county of roughly 27,000 people nestled amid national forestland struggles with 242 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

County health authorities said Wednesday at least 236 of those are related to the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Island City.

The county previously had just a handful of cases and had moved to the second phase of reopening under Gov. Kate Brown’s plan.

The votes are recommendations and the county is looking into what enforcement power it has.

Statewide, Oregon has seen a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent days following the outbreak in Union County and an outbreak at a seafood processing plant in Newport, a city in another rural county on the Oregon coast.

Currently, there are 6,218 confirmed cases statewide and at least 183 deaths. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.


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