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JoCo woman’s death was vaccine breakthrough case

A 47-year-old woman who died earlier this week at a Grants Pass hospital was a vaccine breakthrough case, according to Josephine County health officials.

“She had been vaccinated for COVID-19,” a release issued Saturday by Josephine County Public Health states.

The woman, whose death from complications related to a COVID-19 infection was first reported Thursday by the Oregon Health Authority, tested positive for COVID-19 Monday, Aug. 9, and died the following day at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass.

She had underlying conditions, according to Josephine County health officials.

A 74-year-old Josephine County man — whose death was first reported Friday by state health officials — was not vaccinated, and had underlying conditions, Josephine County health officials say. He tested positive Aug. 3, and died Thursday at Three Rivers Medical Center.

The two deaths bring Josephine County’s number of COVID-19 related deaths to 91 — of which 90 stemmed from complications related to COVID-19 infections.

Neither the Oregon Health Authority nor Jackson County Public Health release individuals’ vaccination status when releasing COVID-19 related fatalities, but state health officials release the numbers in monthly vaccine breakthrough reports.

Of the 55 deaths reported across Oregon in the month of July, 10 individuals were vaccinated and 45 were not vaccinated, according to the OHA.

In a release issued Monday, Dr. Melissa Sutton, medical director for respiratory viral pathogens at OHA described July’s deaths as showing a higher percentage of vaccinated people compared to previous months, but it’s too soon to say if it represents a new trend.

“The overall numbers still show that people who are unvaccinated remain at far greter risk from COVID-19 illness, especially from the Delta variant that is now being found in most new cases in Oregon,” Sutton states.

The July breakthrough report shows that only 19% of the state’s 12,514 coronavirus cases involved vaccinated individuals — including 281 breakthrough cases in Jackson County, 98 in Josephine County and 50 in Klamath County.

The median age for breakthrough cases was 51 years old in July, and 27% of the state’s 4,196 breakthrough cases were older than 65.

Where to get tested

Health officials also announced changes at the Asante health system that simplify the process for getting a COVID-19 test.

Individuals seeking a test no longer need to have an order from a primary care physician to be tested at Asante’s drive-thru locations in Medford and Grants Pass, according to a Josephine County Public Health release Saturday. Asante provides the tests at no cost to those who can’t afford them.

Dr. Leona O’Keefe, Josephine County Public Health’s deputy health officer, encouraged anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested right away.

Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of smell or taste, sore throat, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Asante’s drive-thru COVID-19 Specimen Collection site at 1321 Center Drive in Medford is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Its drive-thru site at 1630 Ringuette St. in Grants Pass is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.

For more info, see asante.org/covid-19/.