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Jackson County reports 17 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Jackson County reported 17 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the number of reported cases to 411.

Rising counts in recent weeks are likely the result of the coronavirus spreading more widely in the community and an increase in local testing, said Dr. Jim Shames, the county’s medical director.

“Testing does lead to more positives, unless your percentage of positive cases drops — which ours has not,” Shames said. “The availability of testing is a little better. Over time, there is greater consciousness about COVID, and people are looking for it more. There’s also more contact tracing and identifying people who may have been exposed.”

For the week that started July 12, the county saw 1,303 tests and 60 cases.

The volume of testing jumped to 1,860 tests for the week starting July 19, when the county recorded 54 new cases.

The weekly count rose to 94 new COVID-19 cases last week. Data on the number of tests performed last week isn’t yet available.

With some test results taking a week or longer to process, there is lag time between when tests are performed and when COVID-19 cases are identified.

Shames said a recent workplace outbreak at Asante triggered more surveillance testing in which a large number of people were tested to help track and contain the virus.

Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford had two clusters of several employees test positive in late July.

While isolated outbreaks gain the most attention, Shames said people should be aware the virus is circulating in the community.

“The chances of getting it most anywhere have increased. People are always looking for hot spots, but it is widespread,” he said.

Jackson County Public Health has been part of preparations to test agricultural workers as they travel to the Rogue Valley for harvest season on a variety of crops. Efforts are also underway to protect wildland firefighters, Shames said.

The largest wildfire so far in Jackson County this summer has been the Worthington fire outside Eagle Point. At least 538 people have been working on the 750-acre fire, which is largely contained, fire agencies said this week.

Shames said workers coming into the Rogue Valley are critical, whether they’re working in agriculture or helping local crews battle wildfires.

“We want to do our best to prevent outbreaks in those groups,” he said. “They have very important work to be done. We want to keep them safe.”

Shames reminded everyone to do their part by wearing face coverings, washing their hands and social distancing.

Josephine County reported a second COVID-19-related death and two addition cases Tuesday. A previous death in Josephine County was moved to another state’s count after it was found that he was not a resident of the county.

An 83-year-old man died Aug. 3 after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 19 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass, according to Josephine County health officials.

Oregon reported 342 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases and five more deaths Tuesday.

The state has had 19,699 cases and 333 deaths, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

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