People not following safety guidelines after reopening, health officials say

MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson and Josephine Counties may be back open, but local health officials are saying the same thing: people seem to be letting their guards down and their worry is, we’ll pay for the price for that.

“The virus hasn’t changed. This is the same disease we’ve been dealing with,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson Co. health officer.

It can be a good feeling to see stores back open and people dining at restaurants, as if life as we knew it… is returning.

But that illusion, the professionals say, is dangerous.

“In fact, because of our good work the fast majority of our population is susceptible to this virus,” said Dr. Shames.

Dr. Shames says he was surprised to see how many people were outdoors this weekend not wearing masks.

“I saw people waiting in line to go into interval spaces in very close proximity to others not wearing a mask and I think that’s foolish because you can definitely transmit the disease to others,” he said.

“More people, close quarters. I guess I felt it wasn’t strictly complying with the stage one reopening,” said Dr. David Candelaria, Josephine County public health officer.

That sentiment is shared by Dr. Candelaria who says he noticed an obvious lack of physical distancing.

“I understand it’s frustrating to be sequestered and some people tolerate that better than others. And I’m not sure if what I saw is just the front of the wave of an increasing lack of honoring the physical distancing or is this as far as it’s going to go for the next three weeks,” he said.

Both doctors predict a spike in infections.

So, it’s important people who have mild symptoms get tested.

“That’s really going to help us understand if we relax physical distancing, if we enter phase one, is the expected increase in cases going to be a lot of a little,” Dr. Candeleria said.

“If they were willing to get themselves tested to find out if they were positive and have symptoms, I think we can go ahead opening up our society and not having to pay too great a price,” said Dr. Shames.

Both doctors say following safety guidelines is more important than ever.

If you’re feeling any coronavirus symptoms:

  • stay home and separate yourself from others.
  • call your medical provider or a medical clinic that is testing for the virus
  • get tested to see if you have the virus
  • cover your coughs and sneezes
  • wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
  • wear a mask

Current health centers or health systems providing testing in Jackson County are Asante, Providence, and La Clinica.

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