Coronavirus Watch: Jackson County struggles to ramp up COVID-19 response as cases surge

Public health officials said that many of the case investigators and other staff employed during the height of the pandemic have either moved on or been reassigned back to their normal duties.

Posted: Aug 3, 2021 2:20 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2021 3:53 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Public health officials in Jackson County say that they are working to ramp up their COVID-19 response as cases surge again, when many of the extra staff hired or assigned to COVID-19 efforts during the height of the pandemic have either moved on or been reassigned back to their normal duties.

Jackson County Public Health reported an unprecedented 253 new cases of COVID-19. That would be a new single-day record, but officials said that some of those cases were stragglers from Saturday and Sunday. Jackson County had the most new cases of any county in Oregon on Tuesday, easily outstripping Multnomah, Washington, and Lane. The agency reported 132 new cases on Monday.

Between Jackson and Josephine counties, COVID-19 hospitalizations numbered 82 as of Tuesday morning, with 26 in intensive care. JCPH also reported two new deaths attributed to the virus, a 43-year-old man and a 96-year-old man. Both had underlying conditions, and died at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

“Each day, we are experiencing new record highs for the number of new cases and hospitalizations in Jackson County. We are in a bad place for our public health and healthcare infrastructure, and for the health of our community,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County Health Officer. “Our public health and healthcare systems are nearing capacity, at capacity or have surpassed it.”

Officials said that they are hiring on more case investigators and moving staff from other public health programs to take on contact tracing duties.

“Recently, Jackson County Public Health adjusted to the decrease in cases. Many of the staff hired on during the first surge couldn’t stay with us due to the reduced hours being worked, and internal staff went back to their original job positions,” said Jackson Baures, Jackson County Public Health Division Manager. “The reality is, because of the number of new COVID-19 cases and how rapid the increase in cases has been, we do not have the staff needed to be able to contact and investigate every positive case or notify close contacts. Even when we were staffed to respond to the previous surge, we would still be beyond our capacity with the number of cases we have had this past week.”

JCPH Health Promotion manager Tanya Phillips said that public health staff will unlikely be unable to contact positive cases and close contacts due to the number of new cases. She urged anyone who tests positive to isolate immediately and notify all close contacts that they may have been exposed and should quarantine for 14 days.

Those infected with COVID-19 should stay home and separate from others until they have no fever for 24 hours without the use of medicine, their symptoms have improved, and at least 10 days have passed since the first symptoms appeared.

Close contacts should also quarantine even if there are no immediate symptoms, unless they are fully vaccinated. The CDC has advised that fully vaccinated people get tested several days after exposure, regardless of symptoms, and wear a mask indoors while waiting on the test results.

“It is more important than ever for people to get vaccinated and wear masks. We must protect our community, protect our public health and healthcare infrastructure and slow the spread of COVID19,” states Dr. Jim Shames.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313161

Reported Deaths: 3594
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51245642
Washington34995276
Marion32577393
Clackamas26570271
Lane23989246
Jackson20977257
Deschutes16623102
Umatilla12602125
Douglas10712188
Linn1046886
Josephine8659165
Yamhill744999
Klamath643491
Polk623570
Malheur479467
Benton461927
Coos412069
Columbia324237
Jefferson313746
Lincoln276330
Union272737
Wasco239039
Crook212338
Clatsop211725
Tillamook181523
Baker174421
Morrow167921
Curry166817
Hood River163035
Harney78916
Grant7558
Lake6768
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4644566

Reported Deaths: 68019
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144512125852
Riverside3579884804
San Diego3495814009
San Bernardino3472035506
Orange3146225354
Sacramento1503072089
Santa Clara1405641841
Fresno1358611888
Kern1358421515
Alameda1162141329
Ventura976901120
San Joaquin973871615
Contra Costa95727924
Stanislaus806991234
Tulare72969896
San Mateo52239607
San Francisco51907605
Monterey49465565
Solano44151312
Santa Barbara43112500
Sonoma39441378
Merced39370535
Placer36487364
Imperial34261755
Kings30124284
San Luis Obispo28300313
Madera21707258
Butte21307230
Shasta20683276
Santa Cruz20151211
Yolo19143239
Marin17106242
El Dorado16004127
Sutter13094153
Napa1226895
Yuba926061
Nevada847685
Humboldt829587
Tehama823784
San Benito709067
Mendocino685575
Lassen637627
Tuolumne615393
Lake603687
Amador492259
Glenn398030
Siskiyou389541
Calaveras342266
Del Norte336034
Colusa290918
Inyo166539
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa99712
Trinity72010
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1650
Alpine1000
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