An interactive graph has been making the rounds of Facebook the past couple of days from Unacast, which is tracking how people are keeping a social distancing based on the amount of travel has decreased compared with the number of confirmed cases.

For Lake County the early days got a low letter grade, C, while other neighboring counties got lower grades. Klamath and Harney each got a F, while Deschutes received a C-.

Things have gotten better, as of Monday, March 30, Lake County is now one of the best counties being tracked by this company. We are currently sitting with a grade of an A, with 47% less travel than before the crisis. While both Klamath and Harney are still at F level and Deschutes has improved to a B.

Even though the data they use is flawed and that really relying on two metrics to measure data to get to a final score makes the data hard to interpret for rural counties. It does provide something though to compare how we are doing to other areas, as people like graphs and charts.

This brings up the point of Gov. Kate Brown Executive Order 20-12, the “Stay at Home, Save Lives” Executive Order that she issued on Monday, March 23. Since then she has made comments that people in Eastern Oregon were not only ignoring the order, but that we were not maintaining social distance.

I must respectfully disagree with Gov. Brown’s assertion that places in eastern Oregon are ignoring the social distancing, and not staying home when they can. In reality large portions of the county are considered essential even under the most recent Executive Order such as ranching and farming activities. Also for people who do need to go to the grocery stores for essentials often need to drive long distances, things that are not always understood in the urban areas.

I applaud actions taken in Lake County by individuals and businesses working at maintaining social distancing. Many places have installed taped lines, placards, and other safeguards in their stores for customers to maintain social distancing.

Lake County is doing an excellent job, something that is getting ignored in Salem by the governor. Of course she has her priorities, and large urban areas are greatly impacted by COVID-19. While I can’t speak about urban areas and if they are following the social distancing in stores, or staying at home if they do not need to be outside, I can only speak about what I am seeing around Lake County.

Companies like Unacast while doing a job that is helpful, often breeds a false narrative that everyone in certain areas are not following the rules, I would advise that people take the map on the app with a grain of salt, even if we are doing good on it.

We should work on what we have been doing, which so far has shown success at keeping COVID-19 out of Lake County, and hopefully we will not get any positive cases.

But it will take work, vigilance, and constant effort to maintain what we have.

We can be a model for the rest of the state, and avoid the worst of the impacts of the virus from striking the county.

— Kevin Winter

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