Douglas County has officially surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 cases, the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team announced Thursday.

By noon Thursday, an additional 18 people were positive with the coronavirus — and one moved from presumed to positive. The disease first came to Douglas County on March 8.

“During the month of November, we recorded a record number of 589 new cases (positive and presumptive combined), which equates to 61% of our total COVID cases since our first case was reported on March 8, 2020,” the daily update read. “That also means that in November we averaged about 19 new COVID cases per day. While this is a significant milestone during this pandemic, Douglas County is still listed as one of the lowest outbreak areas in the United States.”

As of Thursday, the county has had 1,010 total cases; 940 positive and 70 presumed positive. Most of those came in November, when the virus started spreading exponentially throughout the community.

Between March 8 and Oct. 31, there had been 379 cases and eight deaths. In the month of November, there were 589 cases and 11 deaths.

The virus has claimed the lives of 19 county residents since the beginning of the pandemic.

But even for those not directly infected with COVID-19, the disease has had an impact on everyone’s lives.

HOSPITALSOn March 29, the county first reported that a person had been hospitalized locally due to COVID-19.

CHI Mercy Medical Center set up a dedicated coronavirus ward in the hospital in April. But at the same time, the hospital also announced it had to lay off 350 staff members and would see a $9 million drop in revenue for the month of April.

Kathleen Nickel, a spokesperson for the hospital, referred back to the county when asked how the hospital’s approach has changed since then and how the hospital is doing financially.

At the request of CHI Mercy Medical Center, the Roseburg VA Health Care Systems have recently started accepting non-veteran patients who require low-acuity, non-COVID-19 care.

“RVAHCS has the capacity and capability to care for additional patients and is prepared for a wide-range of contingencies in support of local health care systems and the State of Oregon,” Roseburg VA spokesperson Tim Parish said via email.

Parish said numerous measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of veterans and staff, including mandatory masks, restrictions in visitor access and screening for every individual who enters our facilities.

“RVAHCS maintains an ample supply of all levels of Personal Protective Equipment to ensure all Veterans, non-Veteran patients and health care providers are safe while on its campuses and inside its facilities,” Parish said.

ECONOMIC IMPACTWhile all businesses have been impacted differently, Roseburg Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debbie Fromdahl said it has devastated small businesses.

“The economic impact is devastating, but there’s also a huge emotional impact on businesses,” Fromdahl said. “And when we say businesses, we’re also saying employers. Because those businesses employ our citizens.”

The unemployment rate in Oregon was at 13.8% in May, but according to the latest data released in October, it has since dropped to 6.9%. In Douglas County, the unemployment rate was 6.5% in October.

Fromdahl said for business owners and employers, its tough to make decisions about reducing hours, laying people off and determining who remains employed.

“As a small business to have something in place one week and then have something else in place the next week is challenging,” she said.

She advises businesses to take advantage of programs that are available to help, reach out to their customers, remind people to shop locally and advocate for themselves.

“We don’t have a lot of people coming into our area, so we need to make sure we’re supported by our local community,” Fromdahl said. “That’s why we keep pushing shop local, support local business. Local businesses have been great about supporting each other. We need to make sure this holiday season and through the rest of the winter and until we resolve this pandemic that people focus their dollars, and keep their dollars here in Douglas County and support their local businesses.”

SCHOOLSThe previous school year ended with virtual graduations, socially distant graduations and a lot of frustration about distance learning.

Throughout the summer, school districts worked to establish better remote learning programs, educate staff and get buildings ready for increased sanitation.

The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority released guidance on how schools could reopen safely and several Douglas County schools were able to start the school year with on-site learning.

Even more schools joined in as the metrics improved in the county during the first few weeks of school.

By mid-October, all school districts were offering some on-site education.

The metrics were changed on Oct. 30 to be more lenient. However, as numbers started to climb in November most schools shifted back to distance learning.

“The metrics are under consistent and regular review. We make small regular updates based on new learnings from the WHO, CDC, OHA and others,” Oregon Department of Education spokesperson Marc Siegel said. “These small updates help to clarify and sometimes align to other guidance the state has released. Larger updates go through a longer process, we do not currently anticipate major updates in 2020.”

HELP IS AVAILABLEOn Wednesday, a spokesperson for the City of Roseburg sent out a press release urging the community to take advantage of COVID-19 relief programs — many that are set to expire at the end of December.

“We know that many in our community have suffered financially due to the pandemic,” said Roseburg City Manager Nikki Messenger in the press release. “That’s why we want to remind citizens now that there are programs available, but they are set to expire at the end of December.”

Programs available are:

  • Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Program — This program provides assistance to homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and will help them avoid foreclosure. The program provides a one-time payment directly to mortgage servicers to bring delinquent first-lien mortgage accounts current.
  • Roseburg Salvation Army Emergency Assistance — A variety of assistance programs for individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19. Some of these programs include rental/mortgage payment assistance, water utility payment assistance, and sewer payment vouchers. Additionally, the Salvation Army provides meals, gas vouchers, and laundry payment assistance for qualifying individuals. In order to receive assistance, individuals must demonstrate that they are impacted by COVID-19. Examples include a doctor’s note, a letter from an employer, or a referral from another partnering organization. For details on the programs offered, please contact Captain Kristy Church at kristy.church@usw.salvationarmy.org or at 541-248-2585.
  • United Community Action Network COVID-19 Rent and Utility Relief Credit Program — People whose income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, may be eligible for rent and utility assistance through UCAN. The program may provide up to six months of rental credit support, including past due rent to April 2020. All rent payments will be sent directly to the landlord.
  • Douglas County COVID-19 Business Funding Program — These grants will be distributed and managed by Douglas County in the coming weeks ahead. Program details, as of this writing, are still being developed. However, if you are a small business in Roseburg that has been impacted by COVID-19, please sign up for alerts from the County. Please email dcinfo@co.douglas.or.us to be added to the COVID Business Funding Program mailing list.
  • Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce Business PPE Program — providing free personal protective equipment to businesses. Businesses must apply through the Chamber’s website and demonstrate that they were financially impacted by COVID-19. The program is set to launch by mid-December. For questions, and to be notified of the program launch, please contact the Chamber at info@roseburgareachamber.org.

MOVING FORWARDDouglas County officials have spent this week reminding people to wear masks.

“You may have even heard the phrase, ‘Chivalry is dead,’ but the truth is, we all have the ability to show compassion for others,” the daily update read. “For some, we just need to awaken the sleeping giant, or remind yourself and others to stop and take a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes. During the pandemic, we have witnessed incredible acts of kindness, care and empathy across the globe, but simple acts of kindness like wearing a mask to protect others from the spread of germs may not seem like a lot, but this humble gesture shows you have an incredible amount of respect for others … and that is an amazing and noble thing! You can think of it as kind of like being a knight, whose actions symbolize courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.”

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reminds people to:

  • Make a habit of washing and sanitizing your hands.
  • Wear a mask when around people who are not in your household.
  • Stay 6 feet away from people outside of your household.
  • Stay home from work, school and play if you are sick.
  • Minimize travel.
  • Minimize social gatherings.

“It is no secret that the key to stopping the continued spread of the coronavirus is, YOU, our residents, our families, our communities and our businesses,” the daily update read. “Please celebrate safely this holiday season. Prevention is the best medicine, and not just to help stop the spread of COVID, but for your overall health and well-being as well. If each and every individual in our county would make a real concerted effort to implement prevention measures into their daily routine, we could see a huge decrease in our COVID case numbers.”

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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(17) comments

Rise722

Douglas County has approximately 110,000 people. 1,000 cases represents .009 precent of this county. Not very big numbers, eh?

Mike

Actually, that's 0.91%. No wonder you keep publishing such crazy numbers. You can't do math.

Mike

26 new coronavirus cases and 3 DEATHS were reported in today’s press release by the County Commissioners Coronavirus Task Force, bringing the county totals to 1,036 cases and 22 deaths. The press release also announced the number of negative coronavirus test results will no longer be provided making it impossible for me to calculate coronavirus positivity in Douglas County as I had previously been doing. Three days after Douglas County was classified as the “highest risk of rampant coronavirus spread” by the Oregon Health Authority is certainly a noteworthy time to be changing and deleting coronavirus statistics that have been published since March.

The Commissioners Response Team reported 279 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks which calculates to a 14-day case rate of 248.6 today for Douglas County, which is greater than the maximum of 200 required for in-dining restaurants, bars, theaters and health clubs to reopen and is nearly five times greater than the school reopening metric maximum of 50.

Roseburg Veterans Affairs reported 2 new coronavirus cases since yesterday on their national website, bringing their total to 106 cases and 3 deaths.

Mike

The Oregon Health Authority reported a RECORD 2,144 new coronavirus cases and a RECORD 30 deaths today in Oregon.

The Oregon Health Authority also tracks hospital statistics for seven different regions in Oregon. Region 3 consists of Douglas, Coos, Curry and Lane Counties. The OHA reported 13 ICU beds and 110 non-ICU beds are available in Region 3 today. 51 coronavirus cases are hospitalized in Region 3 today. There were a RECORD 193 new coronavirus cases reported in Region 3 today.

Mike

Communities across the country are starting to roll out at-home saliva test kits. Health officials say they could be a game-changer in detecting and slowing the spread of the virus.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/03/us/coronavirus-saliva-testing-home.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20201204&instance_id=24709&nl=the-morning&regi_id=123329811&segment_id=46064&te=1&user_id=2d9279670974826e45b563123ff09555

Mike

Courtney Farr described in this father’s obituary that he was "preceded in death by more than 260,000 Americans infected with Covid-19…He died in a world where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another…He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with Covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family."

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/kansas-covid-obituary-excoriates-mask-deniers/ar-BB1bDkqh?li=BBorjTa

Mike

Roseburg’s Mercy Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Hospital are each listed in the top 5 largest medical facility active workplace outbreaks in Oregon according to an article drawing attention to the concerns for safety of health care workers caring for the sick in medical facilities across the state. It’s noteworthy that Mercy and the VA Hospital are relatively tiny in size compared to the other hospitals on the list.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/active-covid-19-outbreaks-reported-at-15-medical-facilities-across-oregon/ar-BB1bBCza

Mike

According to the Oregon Health Authority Electronic Laboratory Report , Douglas County has 891 total positive coronavirus cases today and NOT the 940 total positive cases reported by the County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team in their daily press release today.

There appears to be a lot of confusion with the dramatic test counting system change the OHA made over the past week. Accumulative test numbers all over Oregon have essentially doubled since the start of the year. What I haven’t found yet is whether the new OHA system is now including anti-body tests in their total count similar to what the CDC was earlier found to be doing. Maybe someone else has that information.

I tried to attach the link to the OHA ELRs report but the News-Review says its spam.

mworden

From OHA Oct 6, 2020:

"Both molecular and POC antigen tests for COVID-19 are very unlikely to produce false positive results. OHA considers any person with a positive molecular or POC antigen test for COVID19 a confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of symptoms."

https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/le2267.pdf

mworden

Mistake. I cut and pasted the wrong section. The above does not apply to antibody tests. This does:

"Approximately half of [antibody] test results may be falsely positive. Your symptoms may be caused by an illness that is not COVID-19. Results may also be falsely negative even if you have or had COVID-19. Antibody tests may not become positive for weeks following infection."

As far as I know, they are not being counted as a positive test due to their unreliability.

Mike

That's kinda why I asked the question because I haven't found anywhere where OHA definitively says they aren't including antibody tests in their total. This was a big issue back in May when both the CDC and many states were found to be counting questionable antibody test as if they were viral tests (below link). Nowhere have I found any declaration by the OHA that they haven't done the same thing.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/health/cdc-mixing-coronavirus-tests/index.html

mworden

https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-testing

There was no date on this page, but it contained this: "NOTE: This COVID-19 Test Site Finder is updated regularly with the latest, publicly available data. However, coronavirus test site details are changing rapidly."

"ANTIBODY TESTING: what we know right now. Although we're receiving data on some antibody tests performed in Oregon, there currently isn't enough evidence to suggest that antibody tests are a reliable indicator that someone has or had COVID-19 (or that they have immunity). As evidence continues to emerge, we may begin to track these test results more closely and to use the data they provide. At this time, we continue to rely on viral tests such as PCR test for confirming cases of COVID-19 in Oregon."

Mike

I wonder if "At this time" has changed.

Mike

According to the statement in this article and the press release from our County Commissioners Response Team, 1,010 coronavirus cases “is a significant milestone during this pandemic, Douglas County is still listed as one of the lowest outbreak areas in the United States.”

This untruthful statement by our County Commissioners is disputed by the Oregon Health Authority who declared just yesterday that Douglas County is in the “highest risk category for rampant spread of coronavirus.” This is just one more example of our Commissioners downplaying coronavirus and giving residents a false sense of security while in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

Mike

The County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team reported 282 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks which calculates to a 14-day case rate of 259.3 today for Douglas County, which is greater than the maximum of 200 required for in-dining restaurants, bars, theaters and health clubs to reopen and is also over five times greater than the school reopening metric maximum of 50.

Roseburg Veterans Affairs reported 3 new coronavirus cases since yesterday on their national website, bringing their total to 104 cases and 3 deaths.

mworden

Excellent article, Sanne.

Mike

The Oregon Health Authority issued a report (below link) yesterday with updated testing numbers for all counties from November 1 to November 29, including all tests, not just the number of people tested.

I am having trouble reconciling OHA’s testing numbers compared to testing numbers issued by Douglas County Public Health Network daily press releases. On average, there are 29% fewer OHA Electronic Laboratory Reports (ELRs) for Douglas County than what was reported by DPHN. Conversely, there are 1,432% more OHA negative ELRs for Douglas County than what was reported by DPHN.

If OHA is using the date sampled rather than the dated reported, it does not explain the difference in positive tests between the two agencies because OHA positive ELRs should have been greater than DPHN positive tests. Unless someone can provide an explanation, one of the two agencies has to be wrong. If the positive cases previously reported by DPHN are accurate, that means OHA positive ELRs are under reported which means all of OHA’s school metrics and risk calculations are wrong.

-------------OHA--------OHA----------DPHN-------DPHN

Week------Positive----Negative----Positive----Negative----Positive----Negative

Start-------ELRs--------ELRs----------Tests--------Tests---------Delta-------Delta

Nov 1------50 ----------1146---------66------------602-----------16----------(544)

Nov 8------116---------1161---------148----------783------------32---------(378)

Nov 15----130---------2194----------178---------923------------48 ---------(1271)

Nov 22----104---------2104----------125---------407------------21----------(1697)

Total------400----------6605----------517---------2715----------117--------(3890)

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-12-2-FINAL.pdf

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