A portion of the 97117 zip code. Photo: Chas Hundley
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GALES CREEK - The Oregon Health Authority released COVID-19 cases on a zip code level for the first time on Tuesday.
Oregon Health Authority officials declined to provide specific case numbers for zip codes with under 10 cases, reporting those zip codes as having "1-9" cases.
For zip codes with a population of under 1,000, such as Gales Creek’s 97117, the results are aggregated into one number, and with the 97116 zip code — which has 55 reported cases — shared by Forest Grove and portions of Glenwood, Timber and Gales Creek, it is unclear if any cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Gales Creek region.
It’s important to note that zip codes — introduced in 1963 by the United States Postal Service — are often a poor representation of the geographic bounds of a community.
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For example, the 97116 zip code, associated with Forest Grove, is a non-contiguous zip code that stretches far beyond the bounds of the Forest Grove city limits, encompassing portions of Gales Creek, Glenwood, and Timber.
In the 97106 zip code, which includes the city of Banks, the community of Hayward, portions of Manning, Buxton, and Mountaidale, there are under 10 reported cases.
The weekly report issued Tuesday had several new features in addition to the zip code breakdown, including reporting “presumptive” cases of COVID-19.
Presumptive cases, according to the report, are people with COVID-19 like symptoms who were in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
“Though not confirmed by a positive diagnostic test, presumptive cases have a high likelihood of having COVID-19 because of the specific nature of the symptoms and known exposure,” the report read.
Statewide, there have been 2,839 positive and presumptive cases, with 113 deaths attributed to COVID-19. 65,402 people have been tested for the coronavirus in Oregon.
In Washington County, there have been 531 positive or presumptive cases and 12 deaths so far.
The report noted that testing efforts in the state have climbed, while positive tests are declining, as are the number of hospitalizations required as a result of the disease.
This article has been edited to add that Oregon Health Authority officials declined to provide specific case numbers for zip codes with under 10 cases, reporting those zip codes as having "1-9" cases.