How effectively are Oregon’s 36 counties containing the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

New analysis of COVID-19 containment data in all 36 Oregon counties shows 8 counties out of control, 12 more at risk. OSPIRG calls on Gov. Brown for more consistent application of reopening plan, and immediate lockdowns in hard hit rural counties.


In this blog, we’ve analyzed COVID-19 data for all 36 Oregon counties, and graded their performance against three critical metrics for disease containment: (1) daily case reports, measured on a per capita adjusted basis; (2) testing volume, measured by test positivity over the most recent week of available data; and (3) success of contact tracing efforts, measured by the percentage of cases that could not be traced to a known source over the most recent week of available data.

Below, you will find grades for all 36 Oregon counties for the most recently available data. The information is sorted worst to best – with failing counties first, and “green” counties last. Counties are sorted alphabetically within each section. At the end of the post, we have provided policy recommendations associated with each grade, and a set of additional recommendations for the entire state.


We have identified several minor errors and one major error in the original version of this report, released on July 17th, 2020. Accordingly, we are releasing this updated report with corrections. The following changes have been made:

  •  Due to a data entry error, case counts for Jackson, Jefferson, and Josephine Counties were incorrect. We have corrected the figures.

  •  Josephine County was moved to “Green” as a result of this change. Accordingly, we are not calling for a lockdown in that community.

  •  Sherman County was moved to “Red” as a result of this change. This does not change our recommendations related to Sherman County.

  •  Due to a data entry error, Benton County was incorrectly listed as “Green.” We have moved it to “Yellow.” Since there are no current plans to lift restrictions further anywhere in Oregon, this does not change any recommendations related to Benton County.

  • Clatsop County was placed out of alphabetical order under the “Green” section. This has been corrected.

  • Daily case chart for Yamhill County incorrectly showed figures for Umatilla County. The chart has been replaced with the correct figures.

  • Several metrics were given the wrong color grade for some counties, despite having correct figures.

OSPIRG takes the integrity of our research extremely seriously, and we aim to be fully transparent when we make mistakes. However, we do stand by our numbers and recommendations – and after a full review, we do not believe there are any further errors in the data. Fortunately, the only recommendations we had to change were connected to Josephine County.

We welcome constructive criticism and feedback, and encourage members of the public to contact us when we make a mistake. As Oregon continues to fight to contain COVID-19, we will continue to track these critical metrics and issue recommendations. 

Oregon has fared better than most states during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that’s only because we acted quickly to lock down the state in March, when the virus was not prevalent. The Oregon Health Authority’s most recent modeling already shows the pandemic has the potential to spiral out of control in Oregon – as we’ve seen in other states over the last two months. Governor Brown should act now, proactively, to prevent outbreaks, rather than scrambling to get things back under control once it’s already too late.

NOTES, CITATIONS & Acknowledgments