Lincoln County sneaks under extreme-risk threshold


LINCOLN COUNTY — Lincoln County will remain in the “high risk” category Friday by the skin of its teeth — the two-week case rate per 100,000 residents was just 1.1 cases fewer than the number that would have triggered re-imposition of some business closures and restrictions.

On Jan. 4, the county received a warning letter from the health authority, giving notice that unless the trend in new COVID cases declined — it was then at 205 per 100,000 residents* for the previous 14 days — indoor dining at restaurants would be prohibited as of Jan. 15, and gyms, theaters and other indoor entertainment/recreation venues would be required to close.

The county appeared, as of Friday, to be headed in the wrong direction — just one or two cases from the threshold, with another day of reporting to go in the two-week period. Twenty-five cases were reported during the weekend. 

But Florence Pourtal, deputy director of Lincoln County Public Health, delivered welcome news to the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners on Monday — the data she’d pulled from the health authority system on Monday showed a case rate of 198.9 per 100,000, keeping the county in the high-risk category at least until Jan. 28.

Health department Public Information Officer Susan Trachsel said those counting at home weren’t mistaken in their math — according to the figures county health reported to its Facebook page and website during the past two weeks, which comes from the health authority’s daily numbers, the county was in peril of reclassification.

Trachsel said it’s not clear why those daily figures seem to belie the final metrics, but it could be the result of data reconciliation (such as presumptive cases found negative and cases reassigned to home counties), or perhaps a change in the population the state uses to calculate Lincoln County’s per 100,000 case rate. Since the county has a population of fewer than 100,000, the rate is determined by multiplying new cases by a factor of approximately two.

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