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CDC reduces Jackson, Josephine to medium community COVID risk

COVID-19 community risk levels dropped to medium Friday in Jackson and Josephine counties. The level remains high in 21 Oregon counties, including neighboring Klamath County.

For the first time in more than a month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has downgraded Jackson County’s COVID Community Level to medium.

Citing reductions in new coronavirus cases and patient hospitalizations in Southern Oregon, the CDC dropped Jackson and Josephine counties to medium risk Friday, but 21 Oregon counties, including neighboring Klamath County, remain at the agency’s highest risk level for community spread.

Jackson County had been in the highest risk category since at least the second week of June, according to an earlier news report. Josephine County had been at high risk since July 9.

In areas with high COVID-19 community levels, health officials recommend that locals take additional precautions to mitigate the virus’s spread such as wearing face masks in indoor public places and on public transportation.

In medium- and high-risk areas, health officials recommend locals stay up to date with coronavirus vaccine regimens and get tested and wear masks if experiencing COVID symptoms, as well as masking after testing positive for COVID or exposure to someone with COVID-19.

For those at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults, immunocompromised people, pregnant people or people with medical issues, health officials recommend taking additional precautions.

Jackson County’s new cases per 100,000 population for the past seven days dropped below 19.19% to 190.55, according to the CDC website Friday, which drew from data collected Wednesday. Josephine County showed a 12% drop over the same seven days to 176.03.

Southern Oregon hospitals are showing a downward trend in coronavirus patients over the past five days. As of Friday, there were 37 patients with COVID-19 in Oregon’s hospital region No. 5, which is comprised of hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The highest number for the month was 64 hospitalized July 17. July’s hospitalization numbers are a fraction of the 223 hospitalizations recorded Sept. 1 and 145 hospitalizations recorded Jan. 27, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

Statewide, there were 424 patients as of Wednesday — 34 fewer than the number recorded July 20. Of those patients, 45 are in intensive care units.

Jackson County Health and Human Services recorded 67 new cases Friday, bringing its cumulative case count to 48,278 since the start the pandemic. Of those 48,278 cases, 3,049 Jackson County residents have been hospitalized, and 557 have died. Jackson County has recorded two deaths this month, one each July 7 and 8.

Cumulative statewide data including Friday numbers were not available as of early Friday afternoon.

Health officials Thursday recorded 1,710 new cases and 15 deaths, bringing the statewide case log to 841,001 and the death toll to 7,996.

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