MEDFORD, Ore. — As prefaced by state officials on Tuesday, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Oregon may have finally reached their peak, with numbers showing the initial signs of decline. However, the latest reports from Jackson and Josephine counties indicate that the peak for COVID-19 deaths may take somewhat longer to overtake.
Jackson County Public Health reported 201 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Hospitalizations in Oregon's Region 5, which includes both Jackson and Josephine counties, slumped somewhat. Public health officials reported 186 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 59 patients in an intensive care unit.
Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center
In Jackson County there were eight newly-reported deaths attributed to COVID-19. The youngest was a 66-year-old woman who died at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where the majority of the deaths occurred. All but one of the fatalities had verified underlying health conditions.
The latest deaths bring Jackson County's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 228.
Josephine County Public Health reported seven new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday. The youngest was a 42-year-old unvaccinated man who died at his home and posthumously tested positive for COVID-19. All of the deaths had underlying health conditions.
Unlike Jackson County, Josephine County has also been reporting the vaccination status of recent deaths. Of the latest seven deaths, public health officials said that three were vaccinated against the virus, all of them between the ages of 70 and 90.
Josephine County's latest deaths bring their total since the beginning of the pandemic to 161. Of the 161 deaths, 141 were unvaccinated.
Between August 31 and September 6, Josephine County saw just over 30 deaths from COVID-19 — the highest that Josephine County Public Health has seen in a 7-day period since the pandemic began.
With hospitals still well over capacity, public health officials continue to urge the public to take precautions by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, masking up, and avoiding crowded gatherings. Jackson County Public Health recommended this week that people take a "layered" approach, wearing masks that are multi-layered in addition to the aforementioned countermeasures.
"Studies have continued to show that wearing a multi-layered mask block exhalation of respiratory droplets and particles. According to the CDC, multi-layer cloth masks can block up to 50-70% of respiratory droplets and particles and limit the forward spread of those that are not captured by the masks," JCPH said. "Studies also demonstrate that cloth mask materials can reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets by filtering out droplets and particles. In addition to the number of layers and choice of materials, other techniques can improve wearer protection by improving fit and thereby filtration capacity.
"Studies continue to show that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalization, severe illness, and death. A recent study by the New York State Department of Health looking at vaccination status among new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations found that during May 3– July 25, 2021, vaccine effectiveness for preventing hospitalization ranged from 91.9% to 95.3%, remaining relatively stable."
Officials at Asante have noted that 90 percent or more of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have been unvaccinated.