Jefferson County Reports First Coronavirus Case—Though the Person Isn't Actually In Jefferson County | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Jefferson County Reports First Coronavirus Case—Though the Person Isn't Actually In Jefferson County

Cases are reported by county of residence—meaning tourist locales like Bend could have more cases than we know

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A person who lives in Jefferson County is the county's first positive case of novel coronavirus in that rural county. The thing is, the person doesn't even live Jefferson County.

Mt. Jefferson, which sits in Jefferson, Linn and Marion counties. - JSAYRE64, WIKIMEDIA
  • jsayre64, Wikimedia
  • Mt. Jefferson, which sits in Jefferson, Linn and Marion counties.

The person lives out of the state right now, but because each case is counted by the person's county of residence, according to public health guidelines, they're counted here, and not where they're actually living, Jefferson County Public Health officials announced Thursday. The person has not been in Central Oregon recently, and they are cooperating with public health, officials said.

Having a positive case reported among people living inside Jefferson County would be significant, because it remains among a group of rural counties in Oregon without a reported positive case. As of Thursday's tally from the Oregon Health Authority, six other Oregon counties besides Jefferson—including Baker, Coos, Gilliam, Harney, Lake and Wheeler counties had not yet reported any positive cases. Crook County had one reported case as of Thursday.



County of residence information is also significant, because it highlights a potential vacuum in reporting of cases in tourist areas, such as Bend and wider Central Oregon. With people traveling in and out of Central Oregon often for leisure or to stay in second residences, it's not clear whether area hospitals or health providers may be treating people whose primary county of residence is not in Central Oregon—and thus, whether we have more cases inside Central Oregon counties than we know about. St. Charles Medical Center denied our recent request for residence information on patients it is treating for COVID-19, citing HIPAA concerns.

"This case highlights the way our public health system works," Jefferson County Public Health's press release read Thursday. "Regardless of where a test is conducted, the county of residence remains the primary reporting classification."


See all our Coronavirus coverage at our Coronavirus HQ.

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