Josephine & Klamath Co. Health officials say they’re headed to ‘extreme risk’ tier

SOUTHERN Ore.- Public Health officials say Josephine County is going from “high risk” to the “extreme risk” category later this week.

“If the metrics don’t change we will go back to the extreme risk category,” said Josephine County Public Health Director, Michael Weber. According to data from the Oregon Health Authority, the county reported 236 cases in the last two weeks.

“Because we had a high case count two weeks ago, last week we needed to be below 63 or less cases and near the end of the week, we had a spike in cases that caused us to go over that mark,” said Weber.

Weber says it is frustrating because people worked so hard to get to the point where restaurants could reopen. “We need to find a way that we can hit a stable state so that businesses and people can plan more than two weeks in the future,” said Weber.

Klamath County has been in the “moderate risk” category for 4 weeks, it says with its rise in cases, now it’s headed for the “extreme risk” category. Public Health says this rise is due to less people getting tested, and more large households contracting the virus. Public Health Program Coordinator Valeree Lane says it feels like the county took a big step forward, only to take several steps back.

“For us to not be in extreme we couldn’t have more than 136 cases and over the last two weeks, we’ve had 179 cases,” said Lane.

The “extreme tier” means restaurants cannot allow indoor dining, and there are tighter restrictions on capacity at certain businesses. “We had a month 4 weeks of living the moderate risk life, and now we are jumping back into the red zone,” said Lane.

In Jackson County, Public Health Director Dr. Jim Shames says he’s feeling much more positive after his county reported 73 cases late last week, its most single-day cases in more than a month.”We’re kinda at a high plateau we’ve had a few high days but we’ve also had some low days, I would expect that’s where we are going to remain,” said Shames.

He believes Jackson will stay in the high-risk category for the next two weeks. He’s not satisfied, he wants to see case numbers keep going down. But he knows, things could be worse.  “If we were at risk of going anywhere it would be up,” said Shames.

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