Josephine Co. hoping to change COVID-19 metrics

SOUTHERN OREGON, Ore. — A steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continues to bring a concern to local health officials.

“We are seeing the hospitalizations going up, it is a worrisome sign,” said Dr. Shames, Jackson County Medical Director.

Jackson County says it’s seen a 17% increase in the number of cases per week.  “If you do the math, we’ve had about an increase of about a third more cases in just two weeks,” said Shames.

Under the state’s new metrics, county risk levels include statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations. If there are 300 hospitalizations and a 15% increase over a 7 day period, then counties whose data places them in extreme will go to that category. If the state’s hospital numbers aren’t that bad, counties that qualify for extreme will stay at high.

Josephine County Public Health Director, Michael Weber says the county is seeing over a 7% positivity rate.

“The goal of the metrics is to measure our risk level, and when we’re measuring statewide, that doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the levels we face,” said Weber.

The County’s Public Health Department is discussing having county-level vaccination rates as the new metric, and utilizing regional hospitalization rates instead of statewide. “Our metric is really based off of what the numbers do in the large metropolitan areas, so if they have a small shift in their hospitalizations rates it could have a big effect on us,” said Weber.

Weber says the current metric isn’t a good indicator of how individual counties are doing, and that a shift in the metric would also hold counties more accountable. “It puts the control in the county’s hands, if the county is able to effectively get vaccinations out to the community accepts them, and gets vaccinated, we can actually track our progress and point towards an effective way that we can have an impact.”

Weber says nothing has been finalized, just talks of potential changes.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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