MEDFORD, Ore. — With the week drawing to a close, Jackson County Public Health reported another unusually high coronavirus case count on Friday, a trend that the county's health officer continues to call "concerning."
Public health officials reported a new single-day high of 36 cases on Wednesday, followed by 31 cases on Thursday, and 33 cases on Friday — a total of 128 new cases since October 18, which represents a 38 percent increase over the same period the week prior.
"We are going in the wrong direction, and it is concerning,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County Health Officer. “I am concerned with the number of cases we have had this week. It is a concerning time because we are entering Fall and Winter, where people are indoors more and gathering with friends and family; we all must do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The County on Friday gave more information regarding a new COVID-19 outbreak at Harry & David, stating that the 11 current cases consist of 8 employees and three close contacts. The investigation began on October 15.
"This is an ongoing investigation. Harry & David remains a collaborative partner with Jackson County Public Health and continues to implement strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the business," the agency said. "Again, this is an ongoing investigation, and for continued information, please access the Oregon Health Authority’s Weekly COVID-19 Report."
As of Friday, Jackson County reported a total of 1,617 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with at least 112 people hospitalized. Six people have died with the virus in Jackson County.
Particularly since reopening began, new cases have been most prevalent among people between the ages of 20 and 40, who tend to be at lower risk of serious complications or death. However, unmitigated spread of the virus is a cause for concern — increasing the probability that it will reach medically vulnerable and older individuals.
"People naturally begin to congregate indoors during the Fall and Winter seasons, and with COVID-19 continuing to spread in our community and clusters and outbreaks of COVID-19 occurring from indoor gatherings, we will need to rethink how we get together with friends and family this season," officials said. "Several factors contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together."
Jackson County Public Health provided the following things to consider for holiday get-togethers:
- Community levels of COVID-19 - Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
- The location of gathering - Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.
- The duration of the gathering - Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
- The number of people at the gathering - Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees.
- The locations attendees are traveling from - Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.
- The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering - Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask-wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.
- The behaviors of the attendees during the gathering - Gatherings with more preventive measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.