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Jackson County launches COVID-19 test site at Expo

With the demand for coronavirus testing straining the system, state and local health officials have teamed up for another place where locals can get tested.

A new temporary COVID-19 testing site opened Friday at The Expo, with the capacity to add about 175 tests per day, according to a news release from Jackson County Public Health.

Tests at The Expo site are free, but are restricted to those who make appointments online through DoINeedACovid19Test.com.

The added testing availability comes as other testing providers in Jackson County are running out of appointments. For instance, with the exception of one Walgreens in North Bend, the drugstore chain’s website showed no appointments available at any Southern Oregon locations Friday afternoon.

Jackson County Health and Human Services spokesperson Tanya Phillips said The Expo site will utilize an Oregon Health Authority testing team among other state resources to “provide some additional capacity to our health care providers.”

“Our current testing sites have been incredibly busy, and we needed additional assistance to meet the demand,” Phillips said in the release.

Results from the PCR tests at The Expo will take between two and three days.

The Expo site is by no means a mass testing site.

There were 17,635 electronic lab reports conducted from Aug. 1 to 14. That averages to about 1,260 cases per day.

The rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant may be straining local testing and hospital resources, but state data show that Jackson County’s vaccination rate is starting to lag again.

Local and state health officials say that the best methods to stop the spread of the delta variant are to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and wear masks.

As of Thursday, Jackson County averaged 441 vaccinations per day for the previous seven days — about 6% off the peak for the month of 468 vaccinations per day, according to OHA data.

As of Friday, 109,971 people had been vaccinated in Jackson County, which is about 49.26% of Jackson County’s population of 223,240.

Of those who were vaccinated, 98,354 have completed their vaccination schedules and another 11,617 have had one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

To help bring those numbers up, an OHA vaccination team will be stocked with each of the three vaccines during testing days, which run 2 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Sept. 19.

Vaccinations will be conducted at Gate 3 of The Expo, and testing will be at Gate 5.

Jackson County reported 148 new cases Friday, Josephine County recorded 125 new cases, and Klamath County reported 40 cases as part of 2,187 cases recorded across the state.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,130 Jackson County residents have been hospitalized and 179 people have died.

The most recent deaths in Jackson County included a 74-year-old woman who tested positive July 27 and died Sunday at Rogue Regional Medical Center and an 80-year-old man who tested positive July 29 and died Tuesday at RRMC.

On Friday, state health officials reported another 19 fatalities, including six out of Josephine County, including a 62-year-old woman, a 64-year-old woman, a 65-year-old man, an 81-year-old man, a 95-year-old man and a 100-year-old man.

There were 193 coronavirus patients in Jackson and Josephine county hospitals Friday, which state data show is a new record.

Statewide, 866 people were hospitalized with COVID Friday, which is 21 more than Thursday, including 241 people in intensive care, an increase of 15.

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