MEDFORD, Ore. -- Public health officials in Jackson and Josephine held a joint virtual press conference on Monday afternoon to discuss the rise in coronavirus cases across southern Oregon and explain how the two counties are working together.
Josephine County has identified 11 cases within the past week, while Jackson County reported 18 cases.
Contact tracing from many of the recent Rogue Valley cases have a culprit in common, officials said — a combination of travel and socializing without proper precautions. In some cases, people have traveled to the area from higher-risk states and then mingled with local groups, quickly spreading the virus.
Many of the most recent cases have been linked to just two private parties that took place the weekend before last, each with 15 to 30 participants. Contact tracing related to those parties is still under way.
That behavior has officials concerned about the coming Fourth of July holiday, they said. People are asked to wear masks properly, wash hands diligently, know who is in attendance for potential contact tracing, and have people bring their own food and beverages.
Jackson County health officer Dr. Jim Shames said that he does not advise social gatherings at all, particularly if proper precautions aren't being followed.
Both counties anticipate a continued spike in cases. Over the past several weeks, new cases have skewed toward the younger population and there have been fewer hospitalizations — but that is likely to change. If cases to continue to spread, Dr. Shames said, there is a higher change that it will reach more vulnerable groups.
Josephine County health officer Dr. David Candelaria said that the new statewide mask requirement announced by Governor Brown on Monday has merit, and he hopes that people "adopt new behavior and not stay entrenched in old behavior." Dr. Shames agreed, expressing his surprise at how few people are taking face coverings seriously.
Officials said that staff from Jackson and Josephine counties meet regularly to share information and help track cases that often straddle county lines.
Jackson County Public Health reported three new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 109. As of Monday, at least 65 people were considered recovered from the virus.
“People are beginning to resume their daily activities and their social lives,” says Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County Health Officer. “People are returning to work; they are attending birthday parties and weddings, going to bars and restaurants with friends and families, resuming their religious practices, they are traveling to places with high COVID-19 cases to see family and friends.”
“It is critical that if you are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms or have a pending COVID-19 test, that you do not attend social gatherings, go to work, or travel,” says Tanya Phillips, Health Promotion Manager for Jackson County Public Health. “When you have symptoms, you are likely spreading the disease to other people, especially if you are not wearing a facial covering and or not wearing it properly.”
Klamath County Public Health reported 7 new confirmed cases on Sunday, bringing the County total to 118. County officials say that 52 of those cases had recovered and are no longer active.
"It is vital that members of our community continue to practice all recommended personal actions at work, in public, and in social circles," the agency said. "It can be easy to feel more secure and protected when with family and friends, but we all must be mindful about developing a false sense of security in these settings."
"Now, more than ever, it is critically important for everyone to protect themselves and others through personal actions," Klamath County continued. "It is also important to remember that each action alone does not provide total protection, and that all recommendations must be followed to best reduce risk of exposure."
Josephine County Public Health reported six new positive cases on Monday, bringing the county total to 37 total cases. Of the new cases, four are presumptive and two are confirmed
Public Health officials said they were notified of the cases on June 28 and 29 by the official medical record system provided by the Oregon Health Authority.
"Josephine County Public Health is investigating all cases to identify contacts and exposures and to isolate and monitor all individuals relevant to the cases," the agency said. "Public Health will reach out to anyone suspected of exposure to COVID-19."
Of the 37 total cases, 26 people have recovered and one person died from complications relating to a COVID-19 infection. The county marked the first death attributed to the virus in southern Oregon on April 11, an 81-year-old man.
Lake County last reported 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
"Continue to use face coverings and practice social distancing if you are in public," Lake Health District. "Practice regular handwashing and sanitize frequently used items. If you are sick, stay home."
Curry County last reported a total of 7 cases, all considered recovered. 627 people have tested negative for the virus.
Siskiyou County officials last reported 27 total confirmed cases in the county. 23 of those cases have since recovered.
Siskiyou county has tested 3,075 people. 2,981 tests have been negative. There are 67 tests currently awaiting results.
Total number of cases (presumptive and confirmed) by county for the southern Oregon and Siskiyou County region:
- Jackson: 109 (65 recovered)
- Klamath: 118 (52 recovered)
- Josephine: 37 (26 recovered, 1 death)
- Lake: 6
- Curry: 7 (7 recovered)
- Siskiyou: 27 (23 recovered)
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