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Oregon sees another record day for new COVID-19 cases

Oregon broke its daily record for new COVID-19 cases Friday, with the Oregon Health Authority reporting 1,306 new infections across the state.

OHA also reported four more deaths from the illness Friday, pushing the state death toll to 812, with a total of 62,175 cases since the pandemic began.

On Friday, 412 people remained hospitalized for the illness in Oregon — including 54 in Jackson and Josephine counties — with 91 Oregonians in intensive care.

Jackson and Josephine counties, referred to as Region 5 by state health officials, have 57 ICU beds, and on Friday 50 were occupied. Of Region 5’s 447 non-ICU beds, 381 were occupied.

Jackson County reported 84 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, raising the county total to 3,241 cases.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and Jackson County public health officials are all urging people to rethink any plans to gather in groups for Thanksgiving.

“I think we can be thankful for our loved ones and what we’ve got in a unique way this year,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County’s public health official. “The year 2020 is different than anything we’ve seen before. It just isn’t safe to bring people together indoors when it’s people who are not in your immediate family.”

Although COVID-19 fatigue had set in across the country, public health officials say there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Clinical trials are showing COVID-19 vaccines appear to be more than 90% effective. The nation is planning to roll out vaccines to health care workers and the most vulnerable people before the year ends if vaccines win final approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“I’ve very optimistic about the vaccines,” Shames said. “They appear to be safer and much more effective than I had hoped. There will be some logistics in getting, storing and giving vaccines to people. But I think we can look out on the horizon and we’re seeing some definite positive news. We have to stay in one piece to get there. I’m very afraid of what will happen after Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the vaccine is very good news.”