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COVID surge has altered county check-in process

As of Nov. 17, we in Jackson County had 800 “active, infectious cases” of COVID-19. Do these people have any kind of restrictions that prevent them from roaming around exposing the rest of us, or is it just a voluntary thing? I remember as a kid seeing quarantine signs on a home if there was someone in that family with a contagious disease. It was mandatory quarantine, and support was given to the family so they didn’t have to go out for groceries or other necessities until they were no longer infectious. Does our local health department still have that authority to impose quarantines? And if so, why are they not doing it?

— Suzanne, via email

People who have been asked to isolate or quarantine at home because they are sick or have been exposed aren’t confined to their home with armed guards stationed outside or anything like that, but they are certainly required to stay at home.

No work, no grocery store, no nothing. Just you, four walls, tea and your streaming platform of choice. And thus far, those who are sick seem to be abiding.

“We really haven’t run into anybody not complying,” Jackson County health promotion program manager Tanya Phillips said.

Those in quarantine are asked to do so for two weeks, while those who isolate are asked to do so for 10 days. Some positive cases may be asked to isolate for up to 20 days, according to Jackson County Public Health’s temporary COVID-19 website, https://jacksoncounty.org/COVID-19. There are some handy dandy flow charts there you can use for step-by-step protocols, whether in quarantine or isolation. To learn more, see www.jacksoncounty.org/News/ArtMID/387/ArticleID/8/If-You-Have-Been-Around-Someone-with-COVID-19/.

Things have changed somewhat during the recent surge in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, both locally and across the state. Before the surge, public health officials would call patients with confirmed cases, provide guidance, and attempt to plug them in to community-based support. Then, toward the typical end of the illness’s run, they’d call to check in a final time, Phillips said.

Now there are typically fewer check-ins with each person, due to the sheer number of new cases that continue to break daily and weekly records.

“We’re trying to prioritize all the cases coming in,” Phillips said.

As for providing assistance, public health officials do that, too.

“Currently we partner with different entities in our community that are in place to provide these wraparound services,” Phillips said via email. “When we are able to interview cases and reach contacts, these are services we can connect them to. We are working on getting this information online specific to Jackson County.”

In the meantime, those who are not in contact with a contact tracer or case investigator can call 211 for assistance.

“211 will connect you to organizations that can help with resources you may need (groceries, financial support, help with rent, other essentials),” the county website says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.