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Jackson County COVID risk level stays put

Jackson County’s COVID-19 risk level will stay at “high,” after its rate of new cases did not reach 200 per 100,000 residents over the previous two-week period, according to Oregon health officials.

The county recorded 373 new cases from March 7-20, a rate of 168.6 cases per 100,000 residents, Jackson County Public Health reported Monday.

A rate of 200 or more cases per 100,000 residents would bump the county back into the “extreme” risk category. The county improved from “extreme” to “high” in late February after posting a case rate of 174.9 cases per 100,000 people. It then entered a cautionary period earlier this month after the rate crept back up to 214.2.

The cautionary period allows areas seeing sudden increases a little more time to improve their numbers without burdening businesses.

“Recognizing the challenges businesses encounter when facing a switch back and forth between extreme risk and other risk levels, this two-week extension will alleviate some of these challenges and give counties a bit more time to bring case rates down,” said Gov. Kate Brown.

A return to the “extreme” designation would have meant indoor dining at restaurants would not be allowed, with additional restrictions on indoor and outdoor entertainment establishments, places of worship and gyms, according to state metrics. Complete guidance can be viewed online at https://coronavirus.oregon.gov/Pages/guidance.aspx.

Josephine and Klamath counties will enter cautionary periods of their own. Josephine County, which is at the “high” designation, qualifies for “extreme.” From Feb. 21 to March 6, the county reported 146 new cases, or a case rate of 168.3 per 100,000, according to a state report. From March 7 to March 20, however, county officials reported 246 cases, or a rate of 283.6 per 100,000 people.

Klamath County, which is at “moderate,” qualifies for “high.” From Feb. 21 to March 6, the county reported 64 cases, a rate of 93.9 per 100,000. Counties with a case rate between 50 and just under 100 per 100,000 people during a two-week period are considered “moderate.” From March 7 to March 20, Klamath County reported 89 new cases, giving it a two-week rate of 130.6, according to the state report.

Douglas County also moved from “extreme” to “high.” From Feb. 21 to March 6, its case rate was 242.3, and it dropped to 158.6 between March 7 and March 20, the state reported.

The next round of risk level assessments will be announced April 6 and go into effect April 9.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 316 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths from the illness Tuesday, raising the state’s cumulative number of cases to 162,016, and the death toll rose to 2,367.

Jackson County reported 28 new cases Tuesday, while Josephine County reported 17, raising their respective totals to 8,987 and 3,045.

The two deaths reported Tuesday were both in Coos County, an 85-year-old man who tested positive March 16 and died March 21 at Bay Area Hospital, and a 67-year-old woman who tested positive March 2 and died March 13 at Mercy Medical Center. Both had underlying medical conditions.

Josephine County also reported a COVID-19 death Tuesday, raising its death toll from the disease to 60, but that death was not included in state data Tuesday. Josephine County officials reported an 81-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 March 12 and died March 19 at Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. He had underlying conditions.

On Tuesday, 109 people in Oregon were hospitalized with COVID-19, seven fewer than Monday, with 16 people in intensive care, two fewer than Monday.

Twenty people were hospitalized in Jackson and Josephine counties Tuesday, two more than Monday, with four in ICU, one fewer than Monday.

As of Tuesday, 577,299 Oregonians were considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 420,296 others had received at least one shot in a two-dose regimen.

In Jackson County, 26,390 people were considered fully vaccinated, and 17,993 others had received one of two doses.

In Josephine County, 8,172 residents were fully vaccinated, while 9,734 others had received one of two doses.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.