Wheeler County reports first COVID-19 case

The Painted Hills in Wheeler County. (NPS Photos)

The first positive test of COVID-19 in Wheeler County, Oregon came on Sunday, Oct. 11, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

From the CDC, Wheeler County, with a population of only 1,366, was one of only four counties in the continental US that had remained untouched by the virus. Spanning 1,700 miles, social distancing is an inherent part of life for the residents of Wheeler. The other counties (Loving and King Counties in Texas and Esmeralda County in Nevada) are even more sparsely populated, all below 1,000 inhabitants.

Wheeler was the first county to be granted Phase 2 of reopening in Oregon following quarantine. Some benefits of Phase 2 include later curfews for businesses and individuals; indoor parties extended to up to 50 people; and certain pools and sport courts are allowed to reopen. Clackamas County is currently still in Phase 1. The positive test has yet to affect the reopening.

Before this new development there were 172 tests in the county, all negative. The Oregon Health Authority said in an email that they were unable to name the infected person or why this has happened now, for privacy reasons.

For more information, visit the Wheeler County website, or go to https://www.oregon.gov/oha/covid19/Pages/Healthcare-Partners.aspx.