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Jackson County reports 123 new COVID cases, 2 more deaths

Jackson County reported 123 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and two more deaths.

The surge broke the record of 84 COVID-19 cases reported Nov. 6.

Jackson County has now had 10 COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic, public health officials said.

The county’s ninth death was an 80-year-old man who tested positive Nov. 3 and died Nov. 10 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford.

The 10th death was an 87-year-old man who tested positive Nov. 6 and died Nov. 10 at RRMC.

Both had underlying medical conditions, public health officials said.

“First of all, I want to send my condolences to the families that have lost loved ones from COVID-19. I am sorry for your loss,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County medical director. “Jackson County has continued to set new daily and weekly records in the last five weeks, and I am really concerned about this.”

With 123 new cases reported Thursday, Jackson County had the third-most cases in the state. Two Portland-area counties had more cases.

Jackson County ranks seventh in the state in population.

The number of reported cases in the county stands at 2,606 after a previously reported case was removed from the overall case count.

Statewide, Oregon also set a new record Thursday with 1,122 new COVID-19 cases, breaking the previous record of 988 cases set Nov. 7. The state reported four more deaths, all men, who were ages 35, 62, 93 and 95.

The 62-year-old man did not have underlying conditions, and any underlying conditions are still being determined for the 35-year-old, state officials said.

The other two men had underlying conditions.

Jackson County Public Health officials urged the public to take the recent surge in cases seriously.

“I cannot emphasize enough that we all need to make changes to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Shames said. “We know that many people have already made these changes, and the actions they are taking have helped. But we need everyone to reduce the number of gatherings they attend. It is best not to gather with people outside of your household. Minimize the number of people you are around and the number of gatherings you attend in a week. Wear a mask in public settings, and especially wear a mask if you are gathering with people who are outside of your household. Even if they are family and friends, wear a mask.”

County and state public health officials said many recent cases are linked to social gatherings, including Halloween parties. With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching and more people spending time indoors during the winter, they fear a continuing escalation in cases.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided new scientific evidence that wearing a mask does more to protect the wearer than previously thought. Scientists originally believed the main benefit was to stop the spread of viruses to others from an infected person.

The CDC now says wearing a mask also helps reduce the risk that the wearer will inhale virus-laden droplets from others.

“Wearing a mask protects those around you and yourself from COVID-19. We are truly all in this together,” said Tanya Phillips, health promotion manager for Jackson County Public Health.

Public health officials and other health agencies in the community report they are fielding more phone calls from people with COVID-19 questions.

Jackson County Public Health prepared a list of resources where people can get information.

For general information about COVID-19, call 2-1-1 or visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

For questions about isolation and quarantine, see govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-Contact-Collaborative. Scroll down for directions on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who tests positive. Follow the directions even if you haven’t been contacted by the public health department.

Jackson County contact tracers are overwhelmed with cases and can no longer contact everyone.

For information on where to get tested in Jackson County, call 2-1-1 or visit govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-Contact-Collaborative.

Seek emergency medical care immediately if someone is experiencing trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, an inability to walk or stay awake, a bluish face or lips or other serious symptoms. Call 9-1-1 or call ahead to an emergency facility and notify the operator you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.