As new COVID-19 cases in Douglas County continued to climb at an alarming rate Tuesday, community health leaders gathered for a press conference to discuss the preparations they’ve made in case of a continued surge, and to urge members of the public to take safety precautions.

In the past week the world, the country, the state and the county have all posted their highest case counts yet, Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said at Tuesday’s press conference at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

“At every level this has been a historic week for the number of cases,” he said.

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 20 new cases Tuesday, pushing the total since Friday to 81 and the total since the pandemic’s start to more than 500. The county is now supporting close to 700 people in quarantine or isolation.

Ten COVID-19 patients are hospitalized locally.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported 771 new cases and three new deaths on Tuesday. That brings the total cases to 51,909 and total deaths to 737.

Dannenhoffer said about half the people in quarantine in Douglas County are related to COVID-19 cases in schools.

Another key issue is people going to work or school when they’re sick.

“This is a time when if you’re the least bit sick, please stay home until you’re well plus one day more and then go back. If people did that it would decrease the number of people in quarantine by at least half,” he said.

Dr. Jason Gray, Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital has gone from two or three COVID-19 patients at a time to between eight and 11.

The hospital has a current capacity for 130 patients, including 16 in intensive care unit beds. In a crisis situation, they could expand to hold 174 patients, he said.

He fears cases could rise with the upcoming holiday season.

Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said there is no one person or thing to blame for the recent rise in cases.

“I think it is a thousand small choices by thousands of different people that cause the virus to spread. I don’t think it’s any one big thing. And oftentimes it’s people doing things they normally do. Things that would seem normal, having friends over for dinner, having a family reunion, going to a wedding,” Freeman said.

The government isn’t going to be able to stop it, he said.

“The way to stop this virus is for each individual person to make the decisions they need to make to protect themselves and those around them,” Freeman said.

KC Bolton, incident commander for the Response Team and CEO of Aviva Health, said sustained diligence by the community is needed. That means wearing masks, maintaining six feet of distance and increased hand washing, along with staying home when sick.

“If you want to keep the economy on its path to recovery, we need to find ways to both contain the virus and keep schools and businesses open. I don’t think that’s possible without a full commitment of each and every one of our county residents to follow all the public health guidelines,” he said.

Dannenhoffer said it can be difficult to convince people how bad this virus is when most here don’t know someone who’s had it.

“This week may change that. This week more and more people are getting it and there are more and more people who are sick,” he said.

Editor’s note: For in-depth coverage of the county’s response to the growing COVID-19 threat in our community, including additional information from Tuesday’s press conference, see Sunday’s edition of The News-Review.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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(32) comments

CitizenJoe

New cases in the US have quadrupled in the last 60 days, and the slope upward appears to be increasing; we had our first greater than 100,000 cases day on November 4, and yesterday, it brushed up close to 150,000 new cases.

The Trump administration's response was always weak, and Mark Meadows announced recently that "we are not going to control this pandemic." The positivity rate in the administration appears to be about as high as in some meat packing plants were.

It's a landslide.

https://twitter.com/Craig_A_Spencer/status/1326747837422592001

NJ

"The government isn’t going to be able to stop it,..." No Tim, the government isn't going to be able to stop it, it's people who will have to stop it. The government's job is to direct people HOW to stop it. Your statement is a deflection to what leaders should undertake as their responsibility. It's just not that hard to starve this virus to death.

mworden

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CitizenJoe

NJ: yes!

melrosereader

Meanwhile, over in Lincoln County they are doing free Covid tests all this week to the public, symptoms or not.

Earlier in the year Lincoln County had one of the earliest workplace outbreaks. But it has been doing pretty good since then.

Mike

Jackson County's Public Health System "Overwelmed" by COVID-19 cases.

https://www.kdrv.com/content/news/Jackson-Countys-public-health-system-overwhelmed-by-COVID-19-cases-as-pause-begins-573044081.html

Mike

A study of Covid-19 testing among nearly 2,000 young adults found symptom monitoring missed nearly all cases of infection, suggesting regular, widespread surveillance testing is needed for both asymptomatic and symptomatic people to get the coronavirus crisis under control.

Douglas County does ZERO surveillance testing. Douglas County doesn't even comply with CDC recommended testing because our County Commissioners chose to minimize cases by NOT testing for them to further their political agenda.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/asymptomatic-covid-19-cases-show-need-for-wider-testing-study-finds/ar-BB1aV9FB?li=BBnb7Kz

melrosereader

Gotta love the if-you-don't-test-then-it-isn't-there approach. Every time I hear that one I think of all the babies who would never have been conceived if it hadn't been for the darn pregnancy tests.

st paddy

talked to a young lady this morning....she's having thanksgiving, 10 people, everyone is doing it.

all the maskless people i've seen going into convenience stores.

the number of cars in restaurant parking lots that belie social distancing.

whoopee, we're all gonna die

Mike

Darwinism.

melrosereader

I remember the old signs in store windows that read

No shirts

No shoes

No service

So maybe stores need to get signs that say

No masks

No service

And stick with it. The Luddites will comply when they finally run out of beer.

OregonHusker

I went to Sherm's last night. While searching for my mask, a woman asked me if I was looking for my mask. I said I was and she said not to worry because nobody stopped her from shopping despite not wearing a mask. I bit my tongue and said nothing.

Mike

Douglas County had a 22.0% positive test rate today. The 7-day positive test rate is 17.4% today.

Mike

Douglas County coronavirus hospitalizations increased 71% since yesterday.

Mike

Corrections: The County Commissioner’s Coronavirus Response Team just issued their daily press release reporting a RECORD 28 new coronavirus cases today, bringing Douglas County’s totals to 545 cases and 10 deaths.

The County Commissioners Response Team reported 181 coronavirus cases and received 1,422 test results over the past two weeks in Douglas County. Dividing 181 cases by 1,422 test results gives Douglas County a RECORD 14-day positive test rate of 12.7 % today. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 5.0%.

The 181 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks represent a RECORD HIGH 14-day case rate of 163.1 today for Douglas County. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 50.

Mike

A RECORD 25 new coronavirus cases were reported at 8:00 this morning in Douglas County by the Oregon Health Authority increasing Douglas County’s totals to 542 cases and 10 deaths. The County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team has not issued their normal noon press release as of 2:00 pm today.

Later today is when the Oregon Health Authority publishes its weekly report where we will learn about all of the coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes, hospitals and workplaces that our County Commissioners have known about for weeks or months but kept secret, all to the peril of county residents.

The Commissioners Response Team held a CYA press conference at the county fairgrounds yesterday to congratulate themselves on doing a great job and to tell everyone County residents are the reason why coronavirus cases are skyrocketing, not them. The Response Team avoided mentioning all of THEIR own actions in resistance to our governor’s coronavirus restrictions that put residents at risk. They didn’t talk about Response Team members leading anti-mask rallies, commending people for NOT wearing masks, opening the county courthouse, parks, campgrounds and boat ramps, all in defiance of our governor’s restrictions. They avoided mentioning how Response Team members urged businesses to open in defiance of the Governor’s shutdown mandate and then helped to pay the fines of businesses cited for doing so. The Response Team conveniently avoided mentioning that and other things they’ve done to put County residents at risk, us residents who according to the Response Team are the problem.

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs has for the third day in a row reported two more coronavirus cases in the last day increasing their total case county to 61. None of the recent new cases were employees/staff.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 178 coronavirus cases and received 1,850 test results over the past two weeks in Douglas County. Dividing 178 cases by 1,850 test results gives Douglas Count’s a 14-day positive test rate of 10.9 % today. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 5.0%.

The 178 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks represent a RECORD HIGH 14-day case rate of 160.4 today for Douglas County. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 50.

The Oregon Health Authority tracks hospital statistics for 7 different regions in Oregon. Region 3 consists of Douglas, Coos, Curry and Lane Counties. The OHA reported 13 ICU beds and 112 non-ICU beds available in the four county Region 3 today. There are a RECORD 39 people hospitalized in Region 3 for coronavirus today.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 143 new coronavirus cases today and a RECORD 1,038 cases and 5 deaths over the past week and a total of 7,078 cases and 60 deaths. Today is the first day ever that ALL six counties surrounding Douglas County reported a minimum of 3 new cases.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 861 new coronavirus cases and 5 deaths today in Oregon. This is the seventh straight day Oregon has reported over 700 new coronavirus cases and the test positivity CONTNUES to increase statewide. The 7-day positive test rate for Oregon set another RECORD today at 12.7%.

melrosereader

As you sow. so shall you reap. County leaders sowed "freedom" instead of community responsibility. They reap what we are seeing today.

melrosereader

Just now in my inbox. 32 new cases in Douglas County for the last 24 hours ending at midnight. https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19

mworden

Dear Dr. Jason Gray:

Will you please talk to Dr. John Powell about the important of science over politics? His support for the idea of herd immunity, sans vaccine, endangers our entire community. There's high minded talk of protecting the elderly and vulnerable while allowing younger, healthier individuals to contract covid and thus gain herd immunity.

Back here in reality, we live in a society and culture that mixes age groups, works in mixed age groups and gathers with families. If younger people are going on with their lives as normal, they are not going to avoid infecting elders and people with underlying disorders. With Thanksgiving coming, families will gather and the young will infect the elderly. We need to be discouraging such gatherings until after an effective vaccine has been administered to enough people to create herd immunity,

Allowing this virus to run wild in the community is not the proper way to gain herd immunity. We need to wait for the months ahead when there's enough vaccine for a large segment of the population. It's not that far off.

Please talk to Dr. Powell about science and do what you can to convince him to leave his high-minded political ideals aside. Viruses don't respect political ideals. If our medical leaders encourage people to go on as normal before we have a vaccine, then we face more death and sickness.

I personally don't want to see Mercy overwhelmed by Christmas because Dr. Powell forgot that we don't have a mechanism in our society for keeping the young and the old apart. His recommendations carry weight. So far, he's done a disservice to our community. Seeking herd immunity without a vaccine will disable and kill too many people. We all deserve better and more realistic advice from our medical leaders. We're only going to get effective herd immunity with a vaccine. His recommendation to allow it to spread through the young endangers us all. He's not listening to patients who disagree with his approach. Perhaps he'll listen to you.

Thank you.

Mike

I spoke with my neighbor at the mailbox yesterday. He's in his 60's and is a firm believer in Dr. Powell, herd immunity and is NOT worried about catching coronavirus because its "no worse than the flue." He appeared incredulous and said "no" when I asked if he knew 10 people in Douglas had died of coronavirus. I showed him the News-Review headline and he got quiet.

CitizenJoe

mworden: yes, yes, yes. A vaccine is coming. We need to keep people alive and functioning until it arrives. Herd immunity by exposure to the disease is a fools errand. Correct that: I mean a ghoul's errand.

Mike

According to the list (below link) of Mercy Medical Center's Board of Directors, Dr. Jason Gray is not on it. However Dr. John Powell is listed on the Board.

https://www.facebook.com/mercymedicalroseburg/photos/chi-mercy-health-is-pleased-to-announce-that-neal-brown-executive-vice-president/10155869195672877/

mworden

A chief medical officer is in charge of overseeing the clinical operations of the hospital, making sure that staff and patients are cared for and that patients receive high quality medical care.

The board of directors is also tasked with overseeing that the hospital provides quality care, but they may also have the main task of overseeing the financial operations of the hospital and making sure the hospital stays financially healthy,

Personally -- and I don't know Dr. Gray -- I trust the position of chief medical officer to make better decisions on this subject than the board of directors. However, when the covid case count is high, hospitals are forced to curtail many procedures and to stop elective surgeries. People will choose to not use hospital resources such as physical therapy. They may delay regular lab tests. That cuts into the the hospitals financial health. Many hospitals have suffered great financial losses since covid arrived, including Mercy, according to news reports.

Both the medical staff and the board have a stake in in keeping covid rates low. Dr. Powell has influenced the community in a negative way, IMO. I say that with the full recognition that he is generally considered a fine doctor and decent human being. Even decent human beings can make mistakes based on deep fundamental beliefs that are not in accord with scientific realities and our current situation. Just because an idea like natural herd immunity "should" work under ideal circumstances doesn't mean that it will under the real circumstances we live under.

We need to wait for a vaccine and in the meantime -- mask up, avoid gatherings, cancel that Thanksgiving trip and big family dinner. You know, act as if we're rational human beings.

Mike

You say "I trust." I remember those days.

Mike

Are Douglas County coronavirus cases accelerating out of control? The below table appears to says so. While it took nearly 20 weeks for Douglas County’s first 100 cases, it ONLY took 1 week to accumulate the last 100 cases. At this rate of increase, it won’t be long before Douglas County starts having over 100 cases per day, at which point the hospitals become overwhelmed and the number of deaths will increase substantially.

Number-------------Days

---of-------------------To

-Cases---------------Reach

0 – 100---------------138

100 – 200-------------57

200 – 300-------------28

300 – 400-------------21

400 – 500--------------7

The reason is NOT because Douglas County is testing more people. Douglas County’s per capita testing remains close to the lowest in the nation. Douglas County is the fourth lowest per capita testing County in Oregon and Oregon is by far the lowest per capita testing state in the U.S. Because Douglas County tests SO FEW people is one of the reasons the case count is blowing up.

However, the main reason coronavirus cases are exploding in Douglas County and deaths are also increasing is because of the many politically defiant actions of elected leaders. Our County Commissioners have downplayed the virus, commended people for not wearing masks, led anti-mask rallies and encouraged local businesses to defy coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Governor to name a few. If someone in your family comes down with coronavirus, look no further than our County Commissioners as the reason. Their political agenda appears to mean more to them than your family’s lives.

melrosereader

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CitizenJoe

Yes, and: CDC indicates masks protect both the wearers, and the people around them. Just a 15% increase in mask use will save a trillion dollars. Oh, and lives.

Freeman is wrong: it's not just the issue of individual responsibility; it's about community action and governmental action. North Dakota is what you get when you go with the Freeman philosophy; ya' know: we need to quit electing people who don't believe in good government.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/11/world/covid-19-coronavirus-live-updates?type=styln-live-updates&label=virus&index=0&action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage#covid-cdc-guidelines-masks

Mike

Commissioner Tim Freeman spoke about coronavirus during a County Commission Board meeting and said the following:

1. “There is no call for social distancing.”

2. “There is no call to close events.”

3. “People should go about their lives.”

4. “This virus, like most viruses, will cycle through and we’ll move on to the next thing.”

melrosereader

"Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said there is no one person or thing to blame for the recent rise in cases."

I think the facts show that leadership matters. And early on the so-called leaders of Douglas County, including the commissioners, our state senator Heard, state representative Leif plainly told, and demonstrated by their actions (for crying out loud as recently as last week, State Rep Leif was pictured in the N-R without wearing a mask) the people of Douglas County that their freedom was more important than following guidelines.

Now, that deadly narrative- that freedom is more important that wearing masks has taken root among the people, as demonstrated in Saturday's so-called fair election rally.

So really Mr. Freeman, although clearly no one individual bares sole blame for what is happening, the false narrative from our non-leaders bears a large share of the responsibility. Just as Trump, with his lying about the pandemic, bears responsibility on a national basis.

CitizenJoe

melrosereader: darned right. Donnie Deathcount is responsible for hundreds of thousands of American deaths already--and Republicans like Freeman, Heard, Leif are complicit.

Donnie Deathcount is president for another ten weeks. The deaths that occur up to then (maybe another 100k-200k) are on him. As will be the deaths that follow, from infections incurred before that time.

Citizen495

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mworden

melrosereader[thumbup]

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