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First COVID Death Announced In Klamath County As Cases Increase Statewide

National Institutes of Health via Flickr

The first death in Klamath County from COVID-19 was announced on Wednesday. It’s the second known COVID-19 death in Southern Oregon.

Public health officials provided few details about the person who died but demographic information shows it was a woman in her 70s who passed away from COVID-19 on June 30th.

Southern Oregon has been largely spared from coronavirus deaths during the pandemic. The only other identified fatality from the virus was in Josephine County in mid-April.

Still, cases have been increasing in recent weeks since the state’s phased reopening began. Oregon set a record on Wednesday with 281 new daily COVID-19 cases.

Recent modeling from the Oregon Health Authority and Institute for Disease Modeling offer several outlooks for the transmission of the virus in July. they range from an optimistic scenario with 180 cases per day, to a pessimistic scenario of 4,800 new infections in Oregon per day.

The moderate forecast assumes daily infections will rise to 900 per day in July with daily hospitalizations from the virus ranging from 8 to 27 people statewide.

Klamath County currently has an infection rate roughly three times that of neighboring Jackson County, according to state data.

The fatality in Klamath comes as many are preparing for the Fourth of July holiday.

To avoid worst-case scenarios, state health officials are advising individuals who are sick or who have health conditions to stay home this holiday. They’re also urging that people holding gatherings provide hand sanitizer, avoid food sharing, wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.