Where is COVID-19 spreading in Clark County? Small private gatherings a key culprit


Analysis of 235 confirmed cases in the first three weeks of the month shows 27 percent of cases linked to social gatherings

CLARK COUNTY — It may be another week before we get a clear picture regarding the impact of the Labor Day Weekend on Clark County’s COVID-19 situation, but it’s already clear that small, private gatherings are a key factor in how the virus spreads.

Clark County Public Health, today, released a breakdown of case investigations involving 235 of 510 people who tested positive between Sept. 1-21. Another 127 cases could not be tracked to a specific location, and 148 cases remain under investigation.

Forty-one percent, or 97 cases, were likely infected by a household member who brought the virus home.

Hundreds of people participated in an outdoor worship at Vancouver Waterfront Park on Sept. 4. Clark County Public Health officials released an analysis of COVID-19 case investigations during the period between Sept. 1-21 and less than 1 percent of the cases (two total) were the result of large social gatherings of 50 or more people. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hundreds of people participated in an outdoor worship at Vancouver Waterfront Park on Sept. 4. Clark County Public Health officials released an analysis of COVID-19 case investigations during the period between Sept. 1-21 and less than 1 percent of the cases (two total) were the result of large social gatherings of 50 or more people. Photo by Mike Schultz

As for where those household members got sick, social gatherings were, by far, the most common places.

However, large social gatherings held outdoors did not seem to be a significant contributing factor in COVID-19 infections. Out of the 235 cases where information was available, 64, or 27 percent, came from a social gathering. But only two of those cases were linked to a large public gathering of more than 50 people. 

By comparison, 48 of those 64 cases were linked to small private gatherings of 10 or fewer people. Three cases were linked to private gatherings of between 11 and 49 people, with three more connected to private gatherings of more than 50 people.

The next highest incidence of exposures were in health care settings (17 cases), long-term care facilities (12), and workplaces (10 in office settings/8 in manufacturing or warehouses).

Grocery stores were linked to seven cases, with one at a retail location. Four others were connected to restaurants, though it wasn’t clear if those were customers or employees.

One person believed they had contracted the virus on a recent flight, and another contracted COVID-19 while on a trip out of the country.

Here’s the full list of sources of exposure for the 235 cases between Sept. 1-21 for whom there was data available:

  • 41% – household member (97 cases)
  • 20% – private social gathering, 1-10 ppl (48)
  • 7% – health care setting (17)
  • 5% – long-term care facility (12)
  • 4% – office (10)
  • 3% – manufacturing/warehouse (8)
  • 3% – travel, out of state (8)
  • 3% – private social gathering, 11-49 ppl (7)
  • 3% – store – grocery (7)
  • 2% – food establishment/restaurant (4)
  • 2% – place of worship (4)
  • 1% – public social gathering, 11-49 ppl (3)
  • 1% – private social gathering, 50+ ppl (3)
  • 1% – public social gathering, 50+ (2)
  • <1% – public social gathering, 1-10 ppl (1)
  • <1% – flight (1)
  • <1% – store – general retail (1)
  • <1% – preschool/childcare (1)
  • <1% – travel, out of county (1)

Information about mask usage for the social gatherings involved in these cases was not available, and it was also unclear if multiple cases could be linked to a single gathering.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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