By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Oregon snapshot of COVID-19 virus

Beware of numbers … or at least, question them. Especially in stories about the COVID-19 virus.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

For example, which Oregon county contains the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests? It’s Grant County in Eastern Oregon, at 20%. But look closer to see why: Grant County reports just one active case among five people tested.

Here are a few interesting numbers, compiled through Tuesday:

Oregon tested fewer people this week than last. Statewide, positive tests have held steady at 4.5 to 5% of total tests for the past nine days.

Marion County tests given through Tuesday were 10.2% positive, followed closely by Washington County at 9.4%. Washington County had an odd spike to 13.4% positive in Monday testing, but that percentage plunged to 1.8% on Tuesday.

Washington leads all 36 Oregon counties with 189 COVID-19 virus cases, then Marion with 151 and Multnomah with 134. Next highest is Clackamas at 56, and from there the numbers drop quickly.

We all know this coronavirus spreads in crowds. Just to illustrate that fact, there are zero cases reported from Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Gilliam, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Sherman and Wheeler counties, and just one case each in Grant, Wallowa, Union, Morrow, Malheur and Columbia counties.

Sense a pattern there? Want to head for wide open spaces?

I’m remembering all those crazy people who flocked to Oregon beaches on a sunny day well after warnings were issued to avoid crowds. The locals must have stayed inside, since only nine COVID-19 virus cases are reported from the combined coastal counties of Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Coos and Curry. But how many inlanders infected each other that day?

Here in Yamhill County, through Tuesday, 456 tests have produced 17 positive cases, an overall 3.7% rate. We have experienced three COVID-19 virus deaths among 19 statewide. Ten of those 19 deaths were people over 80 years old; the other nine victims were age 60 to 70 (three) and 70 to 80 (six).

Those are the current statistics. Sometimes it helps to consider cold, impersonal numbers as a diversion from the heartbreaking human toll of COVID-19 virus across our country and around the world. We watch it daily, hourly, endlessly, and cry along with the global community.

Everyone I know is engulfed in or connected to the turmoil of economic strangulation beyond anything we’ve seen before. But the numbers indicate we have to stop the virus before we can start the economy.

On a personal note, great thanks to many who have voiced support for our newspaper as we strive to stay connected to one another, and to the community.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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