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Southern Oregon hospitals to get help Friday from National Guard

The number of COVID-positive patients in Rogue Valley hospitals held steady for a second day as the governor’s office announced that help is on the way in the form of scores of nonmedical Oregon National Guard members.

Gov. Kate Brown will deploy 500 Guard members to 20 hospitals around the state Friday, including 150 to Southern Oregon, according to emails from the governor’s office and Asante, which operates two hospitals in Jackson County and one in Josephine County.

The 150 nonclinical personnel will go through orientation at the Medford Armory Friday morning before being deployed to hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties. There they’ll help provide logistical support for the doctors, nurses and health care workers facing unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients across the state.

That number could be expanded to up to 1,500 Guard members “as needed,” according to a video from the governor’s office.

Brown said that throughout the week she’s spoken with hospital leaders and frontline health care workers about their needs before determining how the National Guard can help.

“I want to thank our National Guard members who are volunteers taking away their time from their jobs and their families,” Brown said in the video.

Brown is not deploying Guard members who have medical, health care or nursing training, according to a release from the governor’s office, because “many of those members are already at work for their civilian employers — Oregon hospitals and health care providers.”

On Thursday, 845 were patients hospitalized across Oregon with COVID-19, an increase of 12 from Wednesday, including 224 in intensive care, two more than the day before.

In Southern Oregon, the number of COVID-positive patients in hospital region 5 held steady Thursday at 182, according to state data.

Throughout Jackson and Josephine counties, only 2% of the hospital system’s intensive care unit beds were available Thursday, according to the Oregon Health Authority, and only 7% of non-ICU hospital beds were available.

Statewide, hospital capacity is reaching similar limits with just 41 out of 667 ICU beds available, about 6%, and 310 of 4,182 non-ICU beds available, which is about 7%.

State health officials reported 2,971 new cases Thursday, including 345 in Jackson County and 188 in Josephine County. The statewide and local case totals increased to 250,835 and 15,924 respectively.

OHA reported 19 new deaths Thursday, increasing the COVID-19 death toll to 2,994.

Jackson County reported two more deaths Thursday, bringing the local death toll to 179.

Josephine County reported two more deaths Thursday: a 61-year-old man who tested positive Aug. 12 and died Tuesday at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, and an 89-year-old woman who tested positive Aug. 11 and died Tuesday at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. Neither had been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Of Josephine County’s 98 COVID-19-related deaths, 93 were unvaccinated. Josephine County health officials release vaccination status in COVID updates, while OHA and Jackson County Public Health do not.

State health officials, however, track the info about coronavirus cases and deaths in reports now issued every Thursday.

According to the latest report, there have been 423 vaccine breakthrough cases in Jackson County, and 228 breakthrough cases in Josephine County.

Statewide, there have been 7,138 vaccine breakthrough cases, of which 413 cases resulted in hospitalization and 58 resulted in death.

Those breakthrough deaths involved one person in their 40s, two people in their 50s, seven people in their 60s, 16 people in their 70s and 32 people 80 or older.