GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Coronavirus cases in southwest Oregon have been trending downward for weeks after peaking in the midst of the late-summer Delta variant surge. In spite of those trends, Josephine County Public Health called for renewed caution on Tuesday, noting that cases rose again last week — marking the end of a 7-week decline.
For the week ending October 16, Josephine County Public Health reported 149 new cases of COVID-19 among residents, up from 137 the week before. Before last week, the number of cases each week had been dropping progressively from the high of 876 reached during the week of August 15 through 21.
Public Health officials said that this should serve as a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community — and while mitigation strategies like wearing masks and social distancing help, receiving a free vaccination is the best way to protect residents and their families.
“Vaccination is the strongest tool we have available and requires only intermittent effort; I know that masks, physical distancing and limiting social gatherings are ongoing efforts that can get tiring,” said Dr. Leona O’Keefe, JCPH deputy health officer. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 does not pay attention to how tired we are with it, so we must continue our efforts to limit its spread for the sake of protecting our community, especially when we are in a time of high transmission, such as now.”
In Josephine County, COVID-19 cases declined by 20% during the week of October 3 through 9 and increased by 8% the following week. JCPH said that more than 65% of local COVID-19 cases are younger than 50, and 31% of hospitalized cases are younger than 60.
“COVID-19 was a top-10 cause of death in the United States for all age groups in August and September of this year,” O’Keefe said, “and it was the number-one cause of death in those age 35-54 for the same time period. That same age group represents the highest rate of infection in Josephine County.”
As of Oct. 18, 57.9% of Josephine County residents aged 18 and older had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.
Josephine County residents can visit the county public health website to schedule an appointment for vaccination, or call the Josephine County COVID-19 Call Center at (541) 916-7030 to ask questions, schedule a vaccine appointment, or schedule a testing appointment.