Douglas County reached two grim milestones Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic.
It passed 2,000 cases and reported its 50th death from COVID-19.
The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 35 new cases Tuesday. That comes close to the county’s daily record of 38 new cases, set Nov. 21. The second highest total, posted Nov. 24, was 36 new cases. Tuesday’s cases tied with Jan. 1’s count for the third highest number of new cases.
The spike in cases is due to an outbreak at a local care facility, the response team said. It did not name the facility.
In all, the county has now had 2,027 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The 50th person to die of the illness was a 73-year-old man who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died Wednesday.
Ten county residents are currently hospitalized with the illness, seven locally and three out of the area.
The response team announced it was notified by the state Monday that it will remain in the high-risk category for another two weeks, from Feb. 12 to 25.
That risk level allows all businesses to remain open, with some restrictions and limitations on the number of customers who can be served at a time.
Most of the counties across the state remain in the more restrictive extreme level, but 10 counties that had been at the extreme level will join Douglas County in the high risk level Feb. 12.
As of that date, 14 counties will be labeled extreme risk, 11 high risk, three moderate risk and eight rural counties are labeled lower risk.
Among the counties remaining in extreme risk are most of the counties surrounding Douglas, including Lane, Coos, Jackson and Josephine counties. Klamath County will move from extreme to high risk.
“While we managed to stay in the high risk level, our positive case count, especially today is still very concerning. Over the past two weeks, we reported 200 new COVID cases,” the response team said in a press release.
Seniors 80 or older are currently eligible for a vaccine, but must schedule an appointment to get one. County health officials said seniors should plan to call the places where they get their regular health care to set up an appointment for a vaccination.
If your doctor or health care clinic isn’t offering vaccinations, pharmacies are another option for scheduling an appointment. But many places don’t have vaccines yet.
Readers told The News-Review on Monday that some health care organizations and pharmacies weren’t yet ready to schedule appointments Monday for vaccines they haven’t received. Other readers were able to schedule appointments a month out.
Aviva Health, one of the providers that has signed on to be a vaccinator under the county’s senior vaccination plan, said in a press release it is developing plans for COVID-19 vaccination appointments and events and will begin contacting eligible patients and scheduling them once the plans are completed.
The response team said there are many more seniors who need and want a vaccine than there are available doses at this point.
This week, the county expected to receive 700 doses, but there are 7,200 residents in the eligible pool of seniors 80 and over.
The federal supply of vaccines remains limited. The federal government sends vaccines to each state. The state determines how many vaccines are sent to each county, and determines what groups are eligible to receive them at any given time.
Seniors are being added to the eligibility list in stages based on age. Seniors 75 and over become eligible Feb. 15. Seniors 70 and over become eligible Feb. 22. Seniors 65 and over become eligible Mar. 1.
The Oregon Health Authority estimates that most seniors who want a vaccine will be able to get first shots in the two shot sequence sometime between now and early April.
Roseburg Public Schools announced two additional COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with a student at Winchester Elementary School and a student at Melrose Elementary School testing positive for the virus.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 529 new cases and seven new deaths statewide Tuesday.
Statewide, 588,749 vaccinations have been given, 6,981 of them in Douglas County.