Health officials: COVID-19 cases in Jackson Co. on steady rise

MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Public Health said the rise of coronavirus cases since reopening has been steady. The last full week of July there were 1,860 tests done. Of those, 54 tested positive. While that percentage is about 2.2 percent, it doesn’t mean it’s small, according to public health.

“It’s a consequence of reopening and loosening things up,” said Jackson Co. Public Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames. “Every week or every month that goes by we’re seeing significantly more cases than we were previously, and I think that’s happening all over the state.” One opinion is that the increase in cases is due to more asymptomatic people being tested but Dr. Shames said that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting sick and spreading it.

“We don’t want to have our head in the ground and not know what were dealing with,” Dr. Shames said. “I think it’s always a good thing to have testing that tells you the extent of the disease.” Dr. Shames said there aren’t many diseases that look like COVID-19 right now—including the flu—and the more we figure out who’s positive, the more we can protect the most vulnerable.

“The more testing you do the more you’re going to pick up asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic individuals and you know, good for them, they’re gonna do fine…their grandma might not.”

Public health said it’s doing two or three times as much testing than a couple months ago, but our positivity rate is double, if not more, than back then. “The other thing to look at is hospitalizations,” said Shames. “We have more people in the hospital than we did last week at least, more people in the hospital than we’ve ever had.”

Dr. Shames said the incident rate is what’s worrisome when it comes to spread. Up until last week, Jackson County was at 24.4 cases per 100,000 people. Now, the county is at 42.5 cases per 100,000 people. “[It’s] a little unclear whether its gonna continue or whether we’re gonna be able to flatten this particular curve again.”

Public health officials said it’s more important now than ever to mask up when out in public.

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