MEDFORD, Ore. -- For the first time in the history of the pandemic, Jackson County has reported back-to-back months of 60 or more COVID-19 related deaths.
But according to health officials with Jackson County Public Health, the amount of COVID-19 related deaths for the county in the month of September could rise in the coming days.
"Sometimes we still have numbers that trickle in because it really depends when some of our providers will report some of those deaths," said Tanya Phillips with JCPH. "Usually through the first couple weeks we are still adding to that September total so we could very likely see September's death toll increase in the next coming weeks."
In the first 12 months of the pandemic, Jackson County had around 76 deaths total — but in just the last nine months that number has doubled, and is now knocking on the door of tripling last year's death toll.
The other alarming fact is that the age of these victims is getting younger.
"Looking at August and September the average age has decreased," said Phillips. "In August, the average age of those 60 individuals was 72.1. Looking at September so far, the average age was 67.7 years."
At the beginning of the pandemic, Phillips told NewsWatch 12 that the average age from someone passing because of COVID-19 was around 80 years old.
To help stop Jackson County's death toll from increasing even further, county officials are once again stating that vaccinations are the key.
"I think it will really depend on our vaccination rates," said Phillips. "We still have a pretty large portion of our community that is not vaccinated so the more people that we can get vaccinated will help prevent that from happening."
The latest information from the Oregon Health Authority shows that as of October 1, 2021 Jackson County has vaccinated 63% of its population 18 years and older.