Being on Oregon’s COVID-19 ‘Watch List’ will provide more resources for Jackson Co.

MEDFORD, Ore. — After being placed on Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s coronavirus watch list, Jackson County said that might not be a bad thing when it comes to getting additional help.

Counties are added to the watch list when the virus is spreading quickly and tracers can’t find the source for too many cases. “They have seen an increase in unexplained, community spread of the virus,” Gov. Brown said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Jackson County Public Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames said the virus is being spread at private homes where people are visiting. “You’re beginning to lose one of your primary tools,” Dr. Shames said, “which is case investigation and contact tracing.”

Counties remain on the watch list for a minimum of three weeks. By being on it, the Oregon Health Authority can now provide additional assistance to local tracers, something OHA Director Pat Allen said they can’t do unilaterally.

“We have to be able to work in partnership with local public health, with county government,” Allen said. “We’re already in conversations with Jackson County, having put them on the watch list yesterday and it didn’t take but a few hours to have those conversations start.”

“We’ll take whatever can come our way,” Dr. Shames said, “so that we can get these numbers down as quickly as possible.”

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