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SOU faces COVID-19 outbreaks

Southern Oregon University is planning a COVID-19 booster shot clinic on Thursday as it deals with an outbreak of cases. SOU photo
University plans on-campus booster clinic

Southern Oregon University is planning an on-campus COVID-19 booster shot clinic for students after seeing clusters of outbreaks.

The event is planned Thursday at the SOU Student Health & Wellness Center. Students should RSVP by calling 541-552-6136 so the right number of vaccine doses can be ordered, SOU President Rick Bailey said in a statement issued Monday to the SOU community.

“We have all sacrificed and done our sensible best as COVID-19 has left its mark on our lives over the past two years, and we were encouraged when conditions warranted a shift in footing from pandemic to endemic heading into spring term at SOU,” he said. “However, a recent increase in cases on our campus should serve as a reminder to all of us that the virus is unpredictable, and we must respond quickly and responsibly when outbreaks occur — particularly in clusters, as has been the case on our campus in the past week.”

Bailey said SOU’s first and most effective line against COVID-19 is vaccination. He urged everyone who has not received all of the shots for which they are eligible, including boosters, to do so immediately.

SOU’s vaccine policy requires students and employees to meet the definition provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for full vaccination, he said.

To see definitions for full vaccination based on age, health status and other factors, see www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html.

SOU employees should get vaccinations out in the community, such as at their doctor’s office or preferred pharmacy, Bailey said.

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

SOU is following recommendations from Jackson County Public Health to deal with classroom outbreaks. The university will cancel an affected class until every student can be tested, then resume class but require masking until the number of active cases goes down. Any events directly related to the class will be canceled as well, Bailey said.

SOU Facilities Management and Planning staff will clean and sanitize all classrooms and other spaces in which an affected class met, he said.

To help track outbreaks, Bailey urged students to get tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. If they test positive, they should follow isolation and quarantine requirements spelled out on SOU’s COVID-19 website.

“I want to emphasize that face masks — while no longer required campus-wide — are welcome in any setting at SOU, whether indoors or outdoors,” Bailey said.

The university will continue to have masks available in most campus buildings, he said.

Bailey urged everyone to take the precautions they feel are necessary and to respect the choices of others.

New cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County bottomed out in April following a winter and spring surge triggered by the omicron variant of the virus. Cases in the county have been trending up for weeks and now average about 35 daily cases for the past seven days, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

Cases are also trending up statewide, although Oregon isn’t seeing the sharp spikes seen during past surges, OHA data shows.

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