Columbia County suffers first COVID-19 death


August 13, 2020

Columbia County suffers first COVID-19 death

(Columbia County, Oregon) - Columbia County has suffered its first loss to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Oregon Health Authority statistics reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

The 55-year-old Columbia County man was Oregon's 381st COVID-19 death. He tested positive on August 7 and died on August 9 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

“We send our condolences to the family and want to assure the community that we in Columbia County are committed to keeping our citizens safe from COVID-19 as we continue to move forward through this pandemic,” Chair Columbia County Commissioner Alex Tardif said.

Columbia County Public Health Director, Michael Paul, said the death should remind residents of the reality that the virus is present and spreading in the community. Furthermore, Paul said, the most recent indicators released by the state show Columbia County had a 60% increase in new cases during the week of August 2 - August 8, and half of those cases were not traced to a known source.

"Statewide data indicates large outbreaks have contributed a diminishing proportion of recent cases, and sporadic cases - or those not linked to another case - have increased. An increase in sporadic cases is consistent with community spread," Paul said. "Although recent data and state announcements indicate there is a leveling of transmission statewide, the virus continues to spread locally. It continues to cause loss of life in Oregon. We urge residents to continue to protect the people in their household, as well as their fellow community members: wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands frequently."

Still, Columbia’s case rate remains below the statewide rate and case rate across the metro area.

“Our lower case rate is likely due to a lower population density and less travel into Columbia County. We have also been able to trace contacts effectively, and we urge people to continue to answer the phone when we call,” Paul said. “The large majority of residents we have contacted want to do the right thing. People have cooperated, which allows us to identify additional locations and worksites where people may have been exposed, and then to notify individuals and request that they quarantine.”

Additional statewide information concerning COVID-19-related demographics and information about positive cases can be found on the Oregon Health Authority's website at


General questions about COVID-19 can be answered by calling 2-1-1. Questions about your specific medical needs should be directed to your health care provider. If you cannot find the information you need via the website and number provided here, call Columbia County Public Health at 503-397-7247. 

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