BAKER COUNTY — Three more Baker County residents have contracted COVID-19, county officials announced Tuesday, July 7, bringing the county's total to 10.

Five of the nine cases confirmed over the past eight days are employees of the U.S. Forest Service, according to Kendall Cikanek, ranger for the agency's Whitman Ranger District. Cikanek said two of the employees shared a residence, and three others are friends who visited the home often. He declined to give the location.

He said 13 of their co-workers have been self-isolating for the past 13 days, and there is no evidence the virus spread beyond the group of workers who lived together.

Cikanek said four of the employees tested positive, but none had severe symptoms and none has been hospitalized.

He said the fifth employee had symptoms, but tested negative. Cikanek said a doctor made a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 of that employee. That would be a presumptive case under Oregon Health Authority standards.

Cikanek said after learning about the employees' symptoms he contacted the Baker County Health Department. He said the department's contact tracers did an excellent job in overseeing the investigation.

Cikanek said all the affected employees are eager to be cleared to return to work.

A weekly report from the Oregon Health Authority issued Wednesday, which has data as of Sunday, did not list Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City among the hospitals that have COVID-19 patients.

As of Wednesday, a total of 573 Baker County residents have been tested and had a negative result, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). That's about 3.4% of the county's 16,800 residents.

From the start of the pandemic in early March through June 29, during which Baker County had only the one confirmed case, about 475 residents had negative tests.

Out of the most recent approximately 100 people tested, nine were positive.

Information is restricted about where people live who test positive. The OHA publishes a weekly report that lists cases by ZIP code, but those statistics are somewhat limited.

For ZIP codes with fewer than 10 cases, the OHA report only lists a range of one to nine cases.

The most recent report, with data through 11 p.m. Sunday, shows a range of one to nine cases for the 97814 ZIP code, which includes Baker City, parts of Baker Valley and Keating Valley.

The OHA report does not list individual case totals for ZIP codes with fewer than 1,000 residents, instead combining all such cases into a single, statewide group. 97814 is the only Baker County ZIP code with more than 1,000 residents.

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