Josephine County offers advice as state mask mandate ends
The Oregon Health Authority reported 33 new COVID-19 cases for Jackson County Thursday and five more COVID-19-related deaths.
OHA reported 13 new COVID-19 cases in Josephine County and one additional death.
Statewide, OHA reported 433 new COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths. OHA didn’t release information Thursday about when the 54 people died.
The number of Oregon hospital patients with the virus stood at 271 Thursday, OHA reported.
Hospitals in Jackson and Josephine counties were caring for 37 COVID-19 patients Thursday, according to statewide hospitalization data.
Josephine County Public Health issued advice as the state prepares to lift indoor mask mandates in most public settings after 11:59 pm Friday.
Masks will still be required in certain settings, including hospitals.
“The pandemic isn’t over, but the emphasis now is on personal responsibility,” said Dr. Barbra Villona, Josephine County Public Health deputy health officer. “Each individual will have to decide for themselves what level of risk they are willing to take. Your choice will depend on many factors, including current COVID-19 Community Level for your county as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “
People can view risk levels for every county in the nation at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html. The data will be updated Thursdays, the CDC said.
Jackson and Josephine counties were both at the medium risk level Thursday, according to the CDC.
For people who live in medium-risk counties, the CDC recommends people at high risk for severe illness talk to their health care provider about whether they should wear a mask and take other precautions. Everyone should stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations and get tested if they have symptoms.
“If you are vaccinated and have a healthy immune system, your risk of severe disease is low, so you may choose not to wear a mask,” Villona said. “If you are at high risk or someone in your family is at high risk, you may choose to wear a high-filtration mask to protect yourself even when community levels are not high.”
Factors that put residents at higher risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19 include advanced age, being unvaccinated and having a compromised immune system, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or obesity. Residents should consult with their primary care provider to determine their individual risk, Josephine County Public Health said.
Nationally, 6% of the population is immunocompromised, and at least 25% of Josephine County residents are 65 or older, the health department said.
“If we are lucky, we will all get old, so I hope that our community will understand why there will be a lot of folks here that will want to continue to choose to wear a mask,” said Dr. Kathy Mechling, Josephine County Public Health deputy health officer.
People with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask, the CDC recommends.
“Please don’t throw out your masks just yet,” Mechling said. “You will want to have them if you feel like you may be contagious in the future.”
All people in Oregon 5 and older are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine. Those 12 and older are eligible for booster shots five months after the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Visit co.josephine.or.us/COVID19 to schedule a vaccine appointment or for more information. Call the Josephine County COVID-19 call center at 541-916-7030 to ask questions, schedule a vaccine appointment, schedule a testing appointment, schedule monoclonal antibody treatment or report a positive home test.
For information on COVID-19 vaccines in Jackson County, visit jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to-get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.