Public health officer believes Jackson County will stay in ‘High Risk’ category

JACKSON CO., Ore. — Being in the ‘high risk’ category has allowed businesses to partially re-open business in Jackson County and get back to a sense of normalcy, but if COVID cases don’t get under control, they could shut back down.

“I think the numbers will continue to go down and we ought to see ourselves move into lower risk categories,” said Public Health Officer, Dr. Jim Shames.

It’s a light of hope shining at the end of the darkness – COVID-19 case numbers continue to lower in Jackson County, according to Dr. Shames.

“I think in terms of cases per 100,000 [people] and I’m pretty sure we’re well below the extreme level, I think we’re going to stay at high,” he said.

He says the magic number to be considered ‘extreme risk’ is 200 cases per 100,000 people per week.

He says the county is at 168 cases per 100,000, meaning it’s very likely the county will stay open and could even reach the lower risk levels in the coming weeks or months.

“The numbers bounce around, but lately they’ve been really low which is wonderful news,” said Dr. Shames.

He believes numbers are dropping thanks to a successful vaccination roll out across the state. “The vaccine roll out is really finally taking hold, I think people are doing a really great job of wearing their masks and being distanced and you know, taking this disease seriously.”

Despite things going in the right direction, he says there are still some small concerns.

“Jackson County, the state, the whole country… we have things to worry about, we need to be concerned about another wave, we need to be concerned about the mutated viruses that make things a little more infectious, a little more risky,” he said.

He agrees with President Biden’s assessment; life should be back to normal by July 4th.

He believes that’s the case because the COVID-19 vaccines should be widely available to everyone by then.

“I would take the vaccine you have access to, when it’s your turn. If it’s Pfizer, great, if it’s Moderna, great, if it’s AstraZeneca, great, if it’s Johnson & Johnson, great.”

Josephine County just moved into the ‘high risk’ category two weeks ago.

Even if it qualifies for ‘extreme risk’, it will be allowed to stay at ‘high risk’, thanks to the state’s 2-week grace period, that Jackson County is currently in.

Only Coos and Douglas Counties are at ‘extreme risk’ today.

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