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Southern Oregon hospitals see record COVID surge

As Jackson County nears its 1,000th hospitalization, region sets another record for coronavirus patients

Southern Oregon continues to set records for the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, a record 136 COVID-positive people were hospitalized in Oregon’s hospital region No. 5, which is composed of Jackson and Josephine counties, according to Jackson County Health and Human Services.

The first record for the hospital region was set Jan. 2 with 69 patients. The record fell July 31 with 74 patients, according to the Oregon Health Authority, and the numbers have steadily climbed in the first 10 days of August.

The region surpassed the 100-patient mark Aug. 6, and was at 119 patients Monday.

Statewide, 635 people in Oregon were hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 60 from Monday, according to OHA. It was the most people hospitalized with COVID-19 that Oregon has recorded to date, OHA said.

“This is alarming and an urgent call to action if you have not yet been vaccinated,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 and to keep the virus from spreading among our loved ones, our friends and neighbors and our communities.”

Owing to the rise in new cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Tuesday that new statewide indoor mask requirements are in the works.

Few details were released Tuesday about when the new mask mandate would go into effect. Brown’s office will hold a news conference Wednesday with details about the new mask guidelines.

“After a year and a half of this pandemic, I know Oregonians are tired of health and safety restrictions,” Brown said in a news release Tuesday. “This new mask requirement will not last forever, but it is a measure that can save lives right now.”

Jackson County Public Health reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, including some cases logged over the weekend, bringing the latest case count to 13,758.

Since the start of the pandemic, 999 Jackson County residents have been hospitalized, and 166 have died.

The new local cases were among 2,329 cases and nine deaths reported Tuesday across the state, according to OHA. The new cases brought the statewide case total to 232,436, and the new fatalities pushed the statewide death toll to 2,912.

The latest fatalities included a 73-year-old Josephine County man and an 88-year-old Douglas County man.

Other deaths included Marion County residents ages 65, 67, 74 and 76, a 72-year-old Wasco County man, a 90-year-old Clackamas County woman and a 99-year-old Deschutes County woman.

Gov. Brown also issued a new order Tuesday that requires most state employees in the executive branch to be fully vaccinated by a deadline tentatively set for October.

According to the governor’s office, employees in the Oregon State Treasury, Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, Oregon Bureau of Labor & industries and Oregon Department of Justice will be required to submit proof of vaccination by Oct. 18, or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever comes later.

Employees unable to get vaccinated because of disabilities or “sincerely held religious belief” may qualify for exemptions under state and federal law.

The vaccination mandate does not apply to employees in the legislative and judicial branches, “though the governor is encouraging the leadership of both branches to consider a similar requirement,” the release said.

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