© 2022 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Jackson County Hits Record High Number Of Covid Cases

Ashkan Forouzani

Last week alone there were more than 1500 new cases in Jackson County, a number that's nearly three times the past weekly record set during the fall and winter surge.

The surge can largely be attributed to the Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as the original COVID strain. The hospitals in the region are overwhelmed, mostly with unvaccinated people who need ICU beds and ventilators.

Jackson County has the highest number of unvaccinated people of any county in Oregon. Jim Shames, the Jackson County Medical Director, urges people to get vaccinated before catching the Delta variant.

“By the time it does sink in, by the time your family members, and your friends and perhaps yourself are sick, it's too late,” says Shames. “That's where the trust part comes in. We are hoping people will trust us that we are seeing a big train coming and we are asking them to get out of the way.”

Currently, the surge is so intense that normal strategies like contact tracing are not possible.

“When you’ve got 80% of your cases untraceable and you've got averaging 200 cases a day in a small local public health, then that strategy just doesn't work,” says Shames.

Due to the severity of the COVID outbreak in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown reinstated the mask mandate, effective last Friday. The National Guard is being deployed to help Oregon hospitals, who are overwhelmed with COVID patients, at the end of the week. Health officials encourage everyone to get a free COVID vaccine to help stop the spread of the Delta variant.

“Masking and social distancing and vaccinations are the key,” says Shames.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.