In "I Feel Lucky," Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, “Hey, the stars might lie, but the numbers never do.”

Well, maybe. Since there are different ways of looking at numbers, let’s look at the COVID data from a couple of different angles. First, what changes are taking place around the country? Looking at the time frame from April 10-24, 16 states are increasing in numbers of COVID cases. The highest? Oregon at 51% with average daily cases of 776 or 18 cases per 100,000 (100K) population.

The second thing to look at is spread since 18 per 100K is not spread evenly around the state. Hot spots are Klamath County with 66 per 100K and Grant County with 60. Baker County stands at 37, Deschutes (home to Bend) at 34 and Crook at 31. Multnomah with the largest population due to the city of Portland, may have the most cases, but stands at just 18 in 100K. Wallowa County with 176 (as of May 3) cases stands at six.

A third part of the picture comes into focus when looking at percentage of increase in cases in 14 days. Crook County may have had only eight new cases a day, but that’s a 253% increase. Wasco was second highest with a 186% increase and Marion third at 120%. Overall, the U.S. rate of infection dropped 12%: one state remained the same, while 34 states and D.C decreased their numbers: Oklahoma saw an astounding 54% drop, Vermont 42%, Idaho 28%, Michigan 26%. These are numbers we should all strive for.

And what of death rates? Due to better understanding of the needs of hospitalized patients, death rates are dropping around the country. The average daily death rate was 717.6 for a percentage of 0.22 per 100K. Oregon averages 3.4 deaths per day for 0.08 per 100K. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wallowa County has had five deaths. With a population of approximately 7,200, that means a statistically low number. But these deaths are not statistics, they are our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors. Let’s work hard to get to zero infections and zero loss of life.

By going back to the basics, we can do it — by washing our hands frequently, keeping our distance, wearing a mask, getting the vaccine. The freedom of our family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens to live a healthy, COVID-free life depends on the steps we all take to keep them safe.

Catherine Matthias

Joseph

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