BOISE, Idaho — Across the Idaho border, COVID-19 cases are surging. Oregon is recording the highest case rate in the country, while the Gem State's case rate has been declining.
The difference between the two states is regarding the amount of COVID-19 restrictions: Oregon has numerous restrictions, while Idaho has very few.
Oregon's seven-day moving average is currently around 800 per 100,000. At the beginning of April, the state's average was around 400.
While Oregon is going through a bad surge right now, an Oregon health department director believes the state is still in a better position than Idaho.
Throughout the pandemic, Oregon has been successful in limiting COVID-19 outbreaks and keeping hospitalizations and deaths low. The last month, however, has been different.
This week marks the fifth consecutive week that Oregon has recorded an increase of 20% or higher in cases.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown reminded residents that the pandemic is not over on Friday and urged people to continue practicing safety precautions.
The increase in cases is also affecting Malheur County.
"We are at moderate risk right now and if the trend continues, it looks like we will be moving into high risk if things don't change quickly," said Sarah Poe, the director of the Malheur County Health Department.
Malheur County had 36 cases in the last two weeks, and the number of cases is sporadic.
"They are part of a larger outbreak and we're not really sure where they were infected, which usually means we have more cases that we haven't identified in the community," Poe said.
The state is at a tipping point right now, where the variants are causing a lot of the spread in the state.
Idaho's case average is low right now, but Poe believes it is a matter of timing since Oregon controlled surges early on. With fewer Oregonians catching COVID-19 in 2020, they're open to exposure as restrictions eased up.
Even with the current surge, Poe feels Oregon is still faring better overall than Idaho.
"In Oregon, there are about 60 deaths per 100,000 people and in Idaho, there were about 115 deaths per 100,000 people," she said. "Oregon overall has had a case rate of about 4,400 cases per 100,000 people with a lot more population density in the western side of the state overall. Idaho had over 10,000 cases per 100,000 people."
Healthcare providers and the health department in Malheur County are working to ensure getting vaccinated is easy and convenient for residents. There are 13 vaccine providers in the county, and the health department does a vaccine clinic every Thursday at the multicultural center.
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