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Jackson County at 278 deaths

Southern Oregon COVID-19 hospitalizations gradually increase for third straight day

Health officials in Jackson County recorded three new coronavirus related fatalities and 76 new cases Thursday.

The new cases bring the local case count to 21,751, while increasing the death toll to 278, according to a release issued Thursday by Jackson County Health and Human Services.

The latest local deaths were those of a 46-year-old man who tested positive Aug. 23 and died Tuesday at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, a 51-year-old man who died Sept. 22 at his residence and a 69-year-old man who died Sept. 15 at his residence.

The 46-year-old and the 69-year-old men had underlying conditions that contributed to their deaths, but the 51-year-old man had no known underlying health conditions, according to Jackson County Public Health.

As of Thursday morning, there were 96 patients with COVID-19 in Jackson and Josephine County hospitals, including 40 in intensive care units.

Thursday was the third consecutive day of increases after three and a half weeks of declines, according to Oregon Health Authority data for the hospital region 5, comprised of hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Southern Oregon hospitalizations peaked Sept. 1 with 223 patients, and have since declined to as low as 85.

Even the lowest number of the summer surge is still higher than the peak of the winter surge, when local hospitals recorded 69 patients on Jan. 2.

Most of the local patients currently in the hospital were not fully vaccinated, according to numbers provided by Asante — which operates Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Ashland Community Hospital and Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass.

Of the 77 patients in the three hospitals, only six had completed their vaccination schedules, and only one of its 36 intensive care unit patients — a person age 65 or older — was fully vaccinated.

Of the 161 COVID patients who’ve died at Asante hospitals over the past 90 days, 138 — nearly 86% — were not vaccinated.

Health officials say that the vaccine is safe and effective.

Jackson County Public Health recommended that women who are pregnant, lactating, trying to become pregnant now or may become pregnant in the future to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The recommendation draws from new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which showed that pregnant women who get infected with the virus are at an increased risk for severe illness — which could involve hospitalization, admission to an ICU, being placed on oxygen or being placed on a ventilator — compared to people in the same demographic who are not pregnant.

Pregnant people who come down with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth and might be at increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia and stillbirth, according to the CDC website.

“A growing body of evidence on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination – in both animal and human studies – indicates that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy,” the CDC states.

The CDC drew its numbers from more than 125,000 laboratory cases involving pregnant people as of Monday, including 22,000 hospitalizations and 161 deaths, according to the Jackson County Public Health release.

“In addition to the risks of severe illness and death for pregnant and recently pregnant people, there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, including preterm birth and admission of their neonate(s) to an intensive care unit,” the Jackson County release states.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices did not recommend any particular brands of vaccine, but did state that all women younger than 50 years old should be mindful of the risk for a rare but serious condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS linked to women younger than 50 who had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

FEMA offers testing and each of the three vaccines from 11 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays at Gate 2 of the Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road in Central Point. Identification or insurance information is not needed, nor will individuals be asked to provide that information.

Pre-registration for COVID-19 tests are recommended, but not required. To register, see doineedacovid19test.com.

For more information on places to get vaccinated, dial 211.

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