Benton County placed on Governor Brown’s COVID-19 Watch List

Friday, October 2, 2020

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) data released yesterday demonstrates that Benton County is not currently meeting the sporadic case rate threshold. As a result, Benton County was added to Governor Brown’s watch list. Per Oregon Health Authority, counties are placed on the watch list when there is a sporadic case rate of ≥ 50 per 100,000 in the last two weeks and the county has >5 sporadic cases in the last two weeks. 

For the period 9/13/2020 through 9/26/2020, Benton County experienced a sporadic case rate of 58.3/100,000. 

The sporadic case rate represents the rate of cases that do not have a clear epidemiological link to other outbreaks or and therefore indicate the virus is spreading uncontained in a community. This is also referred to as “community spread.”

Placement on the Governor’s watch list is not a punitive measure and does not move the County out of Phase 2. When a county is placed on the watch list, OHA Public Health Division increases communication with the county to determine if technical assistance and/or other resources are needed to assist in the response to COVID-19. OHA will be providing additional staff to assist Benton County with case investigation and contact tracing, as well as remote assistance with entering lab tests into the communicable disease database.

Counties remain on the watch list for a minimum of three weeks and until their sporadic case count drops below 50 per 100,000 or ≤5 sporadic cases in the previous two weeks.

“It may be tempting to ‘point the finger’ at certain groups, whether it’s County contact tracing staff or college students but it’s not that simple. This is a metric our community has struggled with since reopening. It will take all of us to improve our community spread,” said Charlie Fautin, interim Health Department Co-Director. “It is much easier to trace your exposure if your Saturday was limited to one trip outside of the house where you observed public health measures. However, it is substantially harder for County contact tracing staff to determine when you were exposed if you attended a gym class, went to the Farmer’s Market, made a couple non-essential trips on 9th Street, played in your neighborhood, and then met up with another family for a meal at a local restaurant.”