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With cases continuing to pile up, Malheur County now rates as the worst in Oregon for coronavirus infections.

The Oregon Health Authority reported that the county infection rate, calculated to provide comparisons to other counties, has hit 3,503 per 100,000 population.

Malheur County passed two other eastern Oregon counties that have been leading the state for weeks. Morrow County is second at 3,383 infections per 100,000 and Umatilla County is third at 3,233 infections per 100,000.

In the past week, Malheur County reported 132 new cases - down just one from a week earlier. The Oregon Department of Corrections reported 44 new infections for the week among inmates, and 20 among employees.

But the percentage of Covid tests coming back positive surged to 44.8%, meaning that a little more than four out of every 10 people tested are turning up infected. The state rate was 4.1% and the county rate is far above what state officials have set as one measure for when schools can reopen. That is a 5% positive test rate.

Since the county recorded its first case in late March, 1,166 cases have been logged. Among those, 18 have died and 731 are presumed to have recovered.

Malheur County remains one of six on a state watch list, drawing closer scrutiny from state health officials and opening the way for additional help to get the coronavirus under control.

Have a news tip, story suggestion or question? Email Editor Les Zaitz at [email protected]