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Jackson County posts record COVID week

All ICU beds are full in Jackson and Josephine counties

Jackson County Public Health reported Monday that the county broke its weekly record for cases — with a total three times higher than the weekly record from the fall and winter surge of the virus.

“For the week of Aug. 8, Jackson County Public Health reported 1,555 new cases. This is the most COVID-19 cases reported in a week for Jackson County,” says Tanya Phillips, health promotion manager for Jackson County Public Health. “The highest number of cases we had in a week during the fall and winter surge was the week of Nov. 29, with 557 COVID-19 cases.”

The reporting period was Sunday, Aug. 8, through Saturday, Aug. 14.

Cases began surging in July. In the first week of August, the county recorded 654 cases. The weekly count then skyrocketed to the record-setting number of 1,555 in the second week of August.

Although the pandemic hit America at least a year-and-a-half ago, the weekly count of 1,555 cases represents 10.3% of all Jackson County’s cases for the whole pandemic ― 15,050 cases.

On Monday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 4,396 new COVID-19 cases statewide recorded Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Jackson County accounted for 542 of those cases, while Josephine County logged 363 cases over the weekend.

On Monday, the Oregon Health Authority reported the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Jackson and Josephine counties was 163, with 44 of those patients in intensive care. Fifteen patients were on ventilators.

All 57 intensive care unit beds in the two counties are full, OHA data show.

There are no ICU unit beds left for car crash victims, COVID-19 patients or anyone else needing intensive care.

Earlier this month, local hospitals began putting the overflow of patients in hallways, emergency rooms and operating rooms that sit idle because all but the most urgent surgeries have been canceled in the Rogue Valley.

During the fall and winter before vaccinations were widely available, the peak number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Jackson County was 85, set Dec. 19, 2020, OHA data show.

Statewide, 752 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 Monday, with 206 of those patients in intensive care.

The combined populations of Jackson and Josephine counties account for about 7% of Oregon’s population, but the two counties have 21% of the state’s COVID-19 patients who are in ICU beds.

There were only five intensive care unit beds left Monday for the vast areas of Central and Eastern Oregon.

The rest of the state, including the Willamette Valley, which is home to millions of people, had only 42 open ICU beds Monday, although the actual number is likely lower due to staffing shortages.

On Monday, Jackson County Public Health reported the death of a 63-year-old man who tested positive June 10 and died Aug. 12 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Health officials reported the death of an 88-year-old man who tested positive July 13 and died Aug. 13 at his residence.

The third Jackson County death reported Monday was a 90-year-old woman who tested positive July 27 and died Aug. 11 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford.

The state reported 14 new COVID-19 deaths across Oregon, including the three in Jackson County.

The other people who died were ages 27, 47, 54, 69, 79, 80 and 93.

The state death toll stood at 2,949 Monday.

People who want to get tested for COVID-19 should not visit overcrowded local emergency rooms.

Places to get a COVID-19 test in Jackson County include:

  • Asante COVID-19 Specimen Collection Center, 1321 Center Drive, Medford; 541-789-2233
  • Providence Stewart Meadows Urgent Care, 70 Bower Drive, Suite 110, Medford; 541- 732-3962
  • Walgreens, 210 E. Barnett Road and 2280 W. Main St. in Medford, and 433 N. Front St. in Central Point
  • Valley Immediate Care at 1700 E. Barnett Road in Medford; 1600 Delta Waters, Suite 107, in Medford and 1401 Siskiyou Blvd., Suite 1, in Ashland
  • Rite-Aid, 636 N. Main St., Phoenix
  • La Clinica Acute Care Clinic, 616 Market St., Medford

People should seek emergency medical care for COVID-19 if symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.

The list does not include all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you, public health officials said.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency room. Notify the operator you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

For information on getting vaccinated in Jackson County, visit jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID 19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to-get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.

All three vaccines used in the United States are effective against COVID-19, including the highly infectious delta variant. Vaccination reduces the risk of becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized and dying.

Rogue Valley hospitals reported last week that 94% of their hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not vaccinated.

Because of the extreme number of new COVID-19 cases, Jackson County Public Health staff can no longer contact people who test positive and their close contacts. People with COVID-19 should quarantine themselves and warn their close contacts they have been exposed and should quarantine themselves for 14 days and seek testing if they become symptomatic, Jackson County Public Health said.

People with COVID-19 should ask their doctors if they are candidates for monoclonal antibodies. Available through an infusion site at Asante Ashland Community Hospital with a doctor’s referral, the antibodies help people’s bodies fight the virus.

If given early enough, the antibodies reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

Jackson and Josephine counties and hospitals have requested a field hospital, health care workers, ventilators and other equipment.

On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced the mobilization of 1,500 National Guard soldiers to help support overloaded hospitals. They will help with tasks such as moving equipment and helping with COVID-19 tests.

Brown conceded many of the National Guard’s medically trained soldiers can’t be spared from their civilian jobs because they’re already busy working in hospitals and other health care settings.

Brown is also asking for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She has asked for FEMA to send medical personnel.

On Monday, all of Oregon’s senators and representatives in Congress ― both Democrats and Republicans ― urged FEMA to help Oregon with the COVID-19 surge. They noted COVID-19 is spiking in communities with low vaccination rates.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.