SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Marion County is Oregon’s fifth-largest county, yet it’s second only to Washington County in the number of COVID-19 cases.  

As of Thursday morning, Marion County had reported 164 cases and four deaths. Washington County has confirmed 211 cases and four deaths. Marion County health officials think the tally may be a result of early timing; Marion County was, after all, one of the first counties in Oregon to report positive cases, meaning the virus could have had a head start as people were slow to realize they were infected. 

State health officials elaborated on the theory at a Thursday afternoon press conference. 

“Many of our early cases were based on community spread, meaning we don’t know where they got it,” said Oregon Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “So it had been circulating in Oregon before we picked up the first case, so it is spreading in that community.” 

Health experts expect the number of cases to climb in the larger Multnomah and Clackamas counties as testing services ramp up. The true tally of Oregon cases is likely far larger than what is being reported since many sick people have not yet been tested. 

Marion County officials test positive

A member of the Silverton Police Department tested positive for COVID-19 and has not been at work since March 27, the City of Silverton said. Since City Hall has been closed to the public since March 18, officials said the person had limited contact with members of the community.

Two staff members at the Marion County Jail tested positive for the coronavirus on March 30, according to Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Officials are now working to ensure all inmates are housed individually.

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