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Six more cases confirmed in Jackson County Saturday

Jackson County Public Health reported six more cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the county total to 13 cases.

Of the six new cases, half are male and half are female, according to the county. One is in their 30s, one in their 50s, three in their 70s and one in their 80s.

“Jackson County has entered the phase of rapid community spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County medical director, in a news release. “What we are seeing now reflects how well we accomplished personal distancing a week ago. How well we isolate ourselves now will determine how much illness we have next week.”

The county is reporting new cases to the local community as quickly as possible, the release said, leading to discrepancies between local numbers and what the Oregon Health Authority is reporting in its daily dispatch.

Early Saturday afternoon, OHA reported just two additional cases in Jackson County, numbers that it said were accurate as of 8 a.m. That update included a case that the county had reported Friday.

“We did have some debate about what would be the best approach,” Shames said. “I hope we made the right decision, which was to let you all know when we know it, recognizing that there’d be some confusion and question about, ‘Why are you telling us this when the state data is telling us something else?’”

The OHA said 479 cases have been reported in Oregon.

Oregon’s 13th death from COVID-19 was a 93 year-old man in Yamhill County who had no known underlying conditions. He passed away Friday at Providence Newberg Medical Center.

The county’s decision to speedily release numbers and preliminary information about patients means that investigations about where the infected people have been while contagious haven’t necessarily been completed.

“We haven’t done contact tracing for all of these people yet,” Shames said early Saturday afternoon. “But rest assured that, if we did see something we thought could put folks at risk, we would either identify those people or identify that institution.

“I can tell you that we don’t take the weekend off,” he added.

Once the case investigations are completed, more information will be posted to the Jackson County Health and Human Services website, officials said.

Shames said that due to the long incubation period of the disease and the time it takes for tests to be completed, the numbers coming out this week reflect people’s exposure from a week ago or more. Close adherence to social distancing requirements in the present will determine the numbers that pop up in the weeks to come.

That’s of particular importance to health care providers, who are dealing with a shortage of personal protective equipment that keeps them protected from the virus, including masks and gloves.

“We definitely have a shortage of PPE, and we are getting to a place of recycling them, keeping them on longer than we have in the past, that sort of thing,” Shames said. “Trying to conserve what we do have so we don’t get into trouble when there’s a surge later.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.