Spike in Rogue Valley COVID-19 cases, Delta variant accounts for 88% of new cases in the state

MEDFORD, Ore. – For the second straight day, Jackson County is leading the state in new COVID-19 cases. Now, public health officials at both the local, and state levels are urging everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.

“We know that people would like to move on from COVID-19, I would love to move on from COVID-19. But unfortunately, it’s here,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon State Public Health Officer, and Epidemiologist.

With the Delta variant accounting for 88% of new cases in Oregon according to OHSU Dr. Dean Sidelinger said people need to get used to wearing masks again.

“Now is the time to act, put those masks on when you’re indoor public settings. Make a plan to get your vaccine. And if you’re not willing to do either one of those you need to change your plans or plan on getting COVID-19,” said Dr. Sidelinger.

Jackson County has more unvaccinated people than any other county in the state. Friday we also had more COVID-19 cases than Multnomah County, whose population is 4x larger. Dr. Sidelinger said unvaccinated folks aren’t just putting themselves at risk they are putting their community at risk.

“For each of us, the protections we make don’t just impact ourselves, but impact our loved ones as well,” said Dr. Sidelinger.

While Jackson County Public Health Director Dr. Jim Shames said the county has no plans to mandate masks he does believe something has to change within our community.

“The evidence currently is that masking in public places, masking indoors is what everyone should be doing now vaccinated or otherwise. The risk of getting and spreading the disease is too great,” said Dr. Shames.

Jackson County Public Health said hospitalizations are continuing to go up dramatically. If this continues our hospitals will get overwhelmed and have to turn people away.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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