Clatsop County reported Monday that five coronavirus cases were recorded over the weekend.

A man and a woman in their 20s living in the northern part of the county tested positive for the virus.

Clatsop County

Clatsop County is tracking 88 local coronavirus cases.

A man in his 50s and a man in his 70s living in the northern part of the county and a man in his 50s living in the southern part of the county also tested positive.

The county has recorded 88 cases since March 23. Sixty-six have recovered, according to the county, and the others were convalescing at home.

Michael McNickle, the county’s public health director, said the lack of precautions taken by locals and visitors has resulted in community spread, which is the reason the county is seeing an increase in cases.

“Clatsop County is no different than anywhere else where mask wearing is only partially observed; and there are throngs of people coming to the coast on the weekend and congregating,” McNickle said in an email.

“The virus spreads – as it has all along – by people congregating and not following social distancing and mask wearing protocols.”

Ellen Heinitz, a naturopathic physician and the county’s community health project manager, said that most people who have tested positive for the virus have been symptomatic.

“People are getting sick from visiting friends and family,” Heinitz said in an email.

“There has been a combination of our local folks traveling to visit friends and family and or friends and family coming here to spread it.”

The Oregon Health Authority reported 21,488 virus cases and 357 deaths statewide as of Monday afternoon.

The health authority tracked 3,945 test results in Clatsop County, including 85 of the positive cases.

The county began drive-thru community testing for the coronavirus in May with the hope of testing anybody who wanted to be tested for the virus. The goal was to test 300 people every week.

“Also, we were trying to get an idea of how widespread it was in our community and because of that initial testing on demand we found that the vast majority of positive cases were in people who currently or very recently had the symptoms of COVID-19,” McNickle said.

However, the weekly testing total for people dropping in has averaged about 20 over the past several weeks, according to the county. Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria and Providence Seaside Hospital have conducted most of the testing.

McNickle said there was not enough interest from the community to conduct 300 tests a week, and since then, the county has limited testing to people showing symptoms and people who are contacts of positive cases.

“Recently our testing supplies dwindled and we were being denied access to more, so we limited appointments to those with symptoms,” McNickle said.

“During that same period of time there was a huge surge in demand for testing nationally and the time lag in receiving results made testing almost worthless from a communicable disease management perspective.

“To help manage that crisis all providers were asked to prioritize testing for symptomatic individuals so we are doing our part.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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