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Jackson County COVID-19 risk level to stay at ’high’

Jackson County’s COVID-19 risk level will stay at “high” for at least two more weeks because of new statewide metrics that must be met before a county’s risk level can increase to “extreme.”

The county was one of 11 in Oregon that qualified for the extreme category. Jackson County Public Health reported 545 COVID-19 cases from April 4-17, a rate of 246.3 cases per 100,000 tests, according to an OHA report.

Under state rules, counties will move into the extreme risk category only if the case rate is 200 or more per 100,000, and if statewide hospitalizations are at 300 or more, and there is a 15% increase in the seven-day hospitalization average over the previous week.

On Tuesday, OHA reported 255 hospitalizations statewide, 12 more than Monday, with 58 patients in intensive care, one more than Monday. In Jackson and Josephine counties, 33 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, two fewer than Monday.

Before the new metrics were instituted, counties with a case rate at or above 200 per 100,000 people would either move into a “cautionary period” — a probationary window intended to give counties the chance to get case rates back down — or raise to extreme if they were unable to do so. The latter would mean new restrictions imposed on restaurants, gyms, indoor entertainment establishments and places of worship.

Other counties that qualified for extreme but will remain at high are Josephine, Klamath, Deschutes, Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Linn, Marion and Polk. A majority of Oregon’s 36 counties are now at high risk, with three at “moderate” risk and 10 at “low risk,” according to a news release from Gov. Kate Brown.

The next round of risk level assessments will be announced May 4 and take effect May 7, the release said. Brown encouraged Oregonians who are eligible for vaccinations to get one, calling it “the best way to protect yourself and others.”

On Tuesday, OHA reported that 1,044,211 Oregonians were considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 571,152 others who had received one shot in a two-dose regimen.

In Jackson County, 44,181 residents were considered fully vaccinated Tuesday, while 25,437 had received one dose.

In Josephine County, 18,385 people were considered fully vaccinated, and 7,736 had received one dose.

OHA reported 580 new cases and another death from the illness Tuesday, raising the state’s cumulative total to 176,157 cases, with 2,460 deaths.

Jackson County reported 47 new cases Tuesday, and Josephine County reported 12, raising the cumulative caseloads for the counties to 9,984 and 3,078, respectively.

Jackson County has recorded 127 deaths from the illness, and Josephine County has reported 62, according to OHA.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.