COVID-19 virus cases in the county jumped to 28 Thursday. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – The Malheur County Health Department confirmed seven new cases of the COVID-19 virus Thursday afternoon.

The confirmed infections push the total cases for Malheur County to 28 and represent nine new cases in the past week.

“The prevalence of COVID-19 is increasing. That doesn’t mean we are just finding more cases, it means there are more cases per the number of tests that are performed,” said Malheur County Health Director Sarah Poe Friday.

The county’s overall positive COVID-19 test rate is 4.9%, said Poe.

"We are doing more testing which means as we do more and more it should be capturing more and more of a percentage of negatives. As we increase testing, and looking to the future, we want that rate to go down and we are doing testing and the number keeps creeping up showing that prevalence is going up,” said Poe.

Poe said the good news with the seven new positive cases is they are all connected to other known cases.

“That means the virus is more easily contained, when people who are contacts of known cases are already quarantined. That is far more helpful than someone being out and about and not knowing they are infected. This isn’t unknown spread,” said Poe.

Poe said the new cases include four people in the 0 to 19 age brackets, one person in their 20s, a person in their 30s and one person in their 50s. The cases represent one female and six males, said Poe.

None of the individuals are hospitalized.

Meanwhile, results from the testing sites in Nyssa and Vale last week are delayed because of an issue at the Quest lab used by the state, who provides the tests, said Poe.

“The tests were run correctly but the method in the Arizona lab for reporting the results out seems to have a problem,” said Poe. "They are working urgently to manually pull the results and we expect them soon.”

Poe said she hopes to get results back soon.

The health department tested 28 people in Nyssa and 24 in Vale, said Poe. Poe said at least one of the new cases can be traced to the those tests

Have a news tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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