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Jackson County at 49 COVID-19 deaths

On Friday, Southern Oregon hospitals set a new record for the most COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic.

There were 66 patients with the coronavirus Friday in Oregon hospital region 5, consisting of hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties, according to the latestOregon Health Authority data. The previous record for the region was 61 cases Nov. 23.

The data shows that hospitalizations in the region dropped to 45 COVID-positive patients Nov. 26, crept up to 59 hospitalizations Dec. 1 and dropped to 42 hospitalizations Dec. 7 before spiking this week.

Nearly 86 percent of Southern Oregon hospitals’ 445 non-intensive care unit beds were occupied as of Friday, according to state health officials, and 63 non-ICU beds were available. More than 89 percent of Southern Oregon’s 57 intensive care unit hospital beds were occupied Friday and six ICU beds were available.

Statewide, 87 percent of Oregon hospitals’ 4,464 non-ICU beds and 81 percent of the state’s 701 intensive care beds were occupied Friday.

Jackson County Public Health officials recorded one new coronavirus death and 65 new cases Saturday, bringing the latest case count to 4,769 and the latest death toll to 49.

The latest COVID-19 fatality recorded Saturday was a 68-year-old man who first tested positive for the coronavirus Dec. 5, and died Friday at Providence Medford Medical Center, according to a release issued by Jackson County Health and Human Services. Officials say the man had underlying health conditions.

Since the start of the pandemic, 321 Jackson County residents have been hospitalized, according to Jackson County Health and Human Services. Those hospitalizations include four children younger than 9, two youths between the ages of 10 and 19, 14 people in their 20s, 26 people in their 30s, 23 people in their 40s, 53 people in their 50s, 59 people in their 60s, 64 people in their 70s, 74 people age 80 or older and two patients whose ages were not yet available.

Of the 4,769 Jackson County cases recorded since the start of the pandemic, 733 are considered active or infectious meaning that the patient is shedding the virus at a rate likely to infect others, according to local health officials.

Broken down by age range, the active infections include 17 children younger than 9, 49 youths between the ages of 10 and 19, 129 people in their 20s, 94 people in their 30s, 98 people in their 40s, 79 people in their 50s, 95 people in their 60s, 82 people in their 70s and 90 people age 80 or older.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority recorded 13 deaths — including that of the Jackson County resident — and subtracted one from the state’s death toll that had erroneously been entered twice to bring the state’s death toll to 1,150.

The latest fatalities include residents in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s who lived in Multnomah, Clackamas, Douglas, Lane, Marion, Multnomah, Union, Washington and Hood River counties, according to the state.

State health officials also recorded 1,440 new cases, bringing the latest case count to 92,839.

Oregon Health Authority officials stated Saturday that they’re “encouraged” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its 95 percent efficacy in clinical trials.

In quotes attributed to Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen Saturday, Allen called the vaccine’s approval “an historic moment that we should celebrate,” but cautioned that the state is “far from being out of the woods” regarding the pandemic.

“For most of us, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is several months away, and in that time we will see more cases and, tragically, more deaths ... so we need to keep doing our part to protect our families, our neighbors and ourselves by doubling down on the basic actions that keep the virus from spreading,” Allen said.

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