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Jackson County sets new COVID-19 daily record

Jackson County reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the most the county has tallied in a single day.

But Jackson County Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames said the new cases are “not necessarily unexpected” and that it’s too soon to determine whether the local rate of COVID-19 infections is rising.

The previous record of 18 cases was set Aug. 1. Shames said the bulk of the new cases stem from a “large family” with multiple households “and a lot of interconnectedness” that contact tracers and case investigators had been watching closely.

“The larger the family, the more cases you’re going to identify,” he said. “This is fitting into our overall pattern.”

Jackson County has now recorded 536 cases since the start of the pandemic, and 164 of those cases are considered “active infectious.”

Last week, Jackson County Public Health observed a roughly 10% drop in new cases based on data from Aug. 2 to Aug. 8, and Shames said he was hoping the slight dip was a sign Jackson County’s numbers were dropping.

Shames said “one day does not create a trend,” but Friday’s new record leaves him uncertain.

“It really does change week to week,” he said. “At this point I don’t know where we’re headed.”

Shames said that although outbreaks at large workplaces often get more attention, most of Jackson County’s cases have been spread outside of the workplace between friends and family. Shames said he hasn’t observed significant policy violations in the outbreaks at some of the county’s largest workplaces.

“When people get social and they hang around with people they really want to spend time with, they kind of let their guard down — whether it be the break room at work or coming in the front door with all your family members who’ve been out and about,” Shames said. “I think we feel there’s some sort of magical armor that occurs in those circumstances.”

Shames recommended people “continue with the safety measures that we all know at this point,” such as wearing masks around those outside your own household, washing hands frequently, maintaining social distancing and “not bringing folks into your bubble that may be carrying COVID with them.”

“They really do work,” Shames said. “I would just caution people that this can happen within your family.”

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported 323 new cases and two new deaths Friday, bringing the latest case count to 22,613 and 385 deaths.

Friday’s new cases included 52 in Multnomah County, 49 in Marion, 37 in Umatilla, 25 in Washington, 21 in Yamhill, 21 in Clackamas, 18 in Malheur and four in Lane.

The latest deaths included a 73-year-old Lane County woman who tested positive July 25 and died Aug. 12, and an 85-year-old Umatilla County man who tested positive Aug. 3 and died Aug. 12.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.