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Jackson County sees its first COVID-19 cases

Two Jackson County residents are among the latest cases in Oregon of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, according to public health officials.

The two locals — who were not identified by authorities, but do live in the same household — are among four new patients across the state that were flagged as positive at the Oregon State Laboratory, Dr. Jim Shames with Jackson County Health and Human Services said Saturday at a press conference.

The cases, which bring Oregon’s total to seven, are considered “presumptive,” because health officials are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control in Washington.

The two locals, with ages between 55 and 74, were exposed to the virus that has been linked to respiratory illness while traveling outside the country, according to Shames. He did not name the individuals, provide their city of residence or say what country they had visited.

The two Jackson County residents did not need to be hospitalized, are isolating themselves in their home and are fully cooperating with public health officials, Shames said. Health officials have worked “diligently” to contact all known individuals that the two locals may have come into contact since their return.

Shames said individuals under monitoring in the Jackson County case are cooperating with health officials, and that there is no identified risk to the greater community and no known community spread of COVID-19 at this time.

“Some people don’t know that they’re spreading the disease and have lots of contact with other people, but that was not the case here,” Shames said.

Jackson County Public Health activated an Incident Management Team about a potential coronavirus exposure on Feb. 10, according to anearlier news report.

Despite the safeguards in that case, Shames said it’s evident that there is “community spread in this country at this time,” and recommended people in a “high-risk category,” such as those over 60 or those with a chronic history of cardiovascular or lung disease, consider avoiding crowded places and “some restriction of activities” to keep themselves safe.

Shames did not say how many people have been tested or are under monitoring in Jackson County, but state officials say that the four positive tests Friday stem from 42 samples involving 22 people across the state.

The Oregon Health Authority said the other two new cases — three travel related and one a contact of another known case — were in Klamath and Washington counties.

The new Washington County case stemmed from contact with a previously known case, according to health officials and an Oregonian / OregonLive report. The person has not needed medical attention. In the new Klamath County case, the county’s public health officer has not said whether the person is hospitalized or quarantined at home, but “secure from other people.” The case is travel-related.

Health officials in Washington and Klamath counties have not released age ranges for the individuals who tested positive there.

Shames recommended those with coughs or other respiratory illnesses wear a mask as a means to prevent spreading the virus and infecting others. The virus spreads similar to a common cold or flu through droplets from coughs or sneezes.

“We do not recommend mask-wearing for the general public,” Shames said.

Anyone who is feeling ill, but “not terribly sick” should stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and try to avoid contact with other people, according to Shames.

If the respiratory and fever symptoms escalate to a serious illness, Shames advised locals to call their health provider ahead of time so the office can “see you in a way that reduces the spread to other people.”

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

Everyday precautionsyou can take

Jackson County Public Health continues to recommend all people in Jackson County take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and


-- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.

-- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

-- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

-- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

-- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

-- Try alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or wave.

-- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.

-- Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.

-- Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the United States.

Health officer Dr. Jim Shames, left, and Jackson County Public Health Division Manager Jackson Baures, answer questions about two presumptive COVID-19 cases in Jackson County Saturday in Medford. Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan