JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. -- Josephine County Public Health officials say the county has moved to an 'extreme risk' level for COVID-19 cases.
This means the county is seeing more than 200 case counts per 100,000 over a two-week period.
Public health director Michael Weber says there are two things working against them right now. One of them is the cold and flu season.
"Respiratory illnesses spread more readily during this time of year," Weber said. "So, people spending more time indoors, being less likely to be at outdoor gatherings, those things just as a broad reality are going to cause -- whether it's cold, the flu or any kind of respiratory illness -- to spread more easily."
This also means when there's a spike in cases, it's not going to drop as quickly.
Weber said the other problem was Halloween.
He says following Halloween, they had a fourfold increase in cases, which resulted in a six-to-eight fold increase.
"It's not 20 to 30 people getting together from Memorial Day. It's you going out with your children, interacting with everybody on the street, going to every door -- you're interacting with hundreds of people," Weber said. "So, Halloween is really just kind of a worst case scenario for us."
Weber says they had a large spike and a decreased rate for bringing the cases back down.
"The purpose of doing something like a 'freeze' isn't to manage the illness, it's to, between events, trying to get your case rate down," Weber said.
Weber says now they're working to boost their contact tracing program.
He says they used to support other counties with their contact tracing efforts, but now they can barely keep up on the case load in Josephine County.
Weber says their goal is to get at least 20 to 30 more contact tracers.
He says contact tracing is one of the best tools they have for making sure the virus doesn't reach areas of bigger concern.
"We've actually had situations where an individual who worked at a long-term care facility went to a social gathering, was exposed to somebody -- who we were able to let them know before they took that disease back into a long-term care facility with them," Weber said. "So, avoiding that kind of exposure is really critical."
Weber says they hope people will limit the amount of social interaction and traveling that they do over the remainder of the holiday season.