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Jackson County sets daily and weekly COVID-19 records

Jackson County Public Health reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the most the agency has reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

The county also set a weekly record for number of cases with 177 during the week of Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, Jackson County reported Thursday.

County Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames pointed to community spread and social gatherings as key reasons for the uptick in cases.

“Some of these events occur when people let their guard down. You know, they drive together in a car unmasked with the windows up. Or they share a break room and they get together in a small space and have sandwiches,” Shames said. “And then they go back out and they put their masks on, sort of not realizing that you have to maintain that kind of vigilance throughout your day. Then there are folks that bring loved ones or friends into their home. We just have to be vigilant wherever we interact with other human beings outside of our household.”

The new cases raised Jackson County’s case total to 1,796. Of that number, 254 patients were considered infectious Thursday. There have been 127 local hospitalizations and seven deaths from the disease.

During the week of Oct. 18-24, the county saw a rate of 80 cases per 100,000 people. That’s an increase of 31% from the previous week’s 135 cases, county data show. The county’s test positivity rate during the week of Oct. 18-24 was 8.1%, an increase of 26.6% from the previous week, which saw a test positivity rate of about 6.4%. Prior to that, the county’s highest testing rate was 7.2%, recorded the week of Aug. 23.

The county has not yet reached criteria to go back on the state’s watch list, Shames said. Counties are placed on that list only when sporadic cases, or those that cannot be traced to a known source, exceed a rate of 50 cases per 100,000 people and the county has more than five sporadic cases in a two-week period.

“But that could change at any moment. I don’t know how that’s going to play out,” Shames said. “I think largely it’s in our hands as to what direction we go.”

The Oregon Health Authority reported 575 new cases of the illness across Oregon, the most in one day since the start of the pandemic, according to an OHA press release.

“Preliminary data show this increase reflects continued widespread community transmission resulting in small clusters and outbreaks statewide,” the release said.

Two more Oregonians, a 96-year-old woman from Multnomah County and a 94-year-old woman from Marion County, died from the illness. Both had underlying medical conditions. The deaths raised the state’s death toll to 673.

Health officials continued to encourage Oregonians to wear protective face coverings while indoors “or all other places where they will be in contact with people from outside their household.”

The agency is also discouraging traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and costume parties with people outside their households.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.