The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 31 people with new positive coronavirus test results during its noon case update Thursday.
Since Sunday, the number of cases has jumped 82 for a total 3,512 cases, despite increasing efforts to get Douglas County residents vaccinated.
While the 31 new positive cases of coronavirus reported Thursday still fall short of the mid-February spike — 354 positive COVID-19 tests over a two-week period, with a record high of 44 cases on Feb. 11 — the trend of positives in Douglas County is causing concern for local health officials.
Response team spokesperson Tamara Howell Thursday said the most puzzling part of the county’s spike in positive tests and hospitalizations is that there is no common link.
“There’s no common denominator,” Howell said. “I wish we knew the answer to that. Is it because of the recent relaxation in the mandates?”
“It has been pretty broad-based,” Douglas County Public Health officer Bob Dannenhoffer said. “We’re seeing it in all areas of the county. We’re seeing it in schools, workplaces, and we’re seeing all ages, which is a little different from our previous spikes.”
Howell said that of the 21 county residents who are hospitalized with the coronavirus, their ages range from 15 to 61, with the majority of those patients in their 30s and 40s.
“It’s really not the senior population anymore, because a good part of our senior population has been vaccinated,” Howell said. “It’s hard, because you have a lot of pushback from people. ‘It’s up to me what I put in my body,’ and it is, but it’s disheartening to see these numbers go up and up.”
Of the total 800 people being monitored by the Douglas Public Health Network — 207 in isolation and 593 in quarantine — many of those cases are tied to county schools.
Roseburg Public Schools announced that a person at Sunnyslope Elementary School was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Riddle School District also announced a person at its junior/senior high school tested positive for COVID-19.
Dannenhoffer said Douglas County’s current spike is an echo of spikes which hit neighboring counties — specifically Lane, Jackson, Josephine and Deschutes — in mid-April.
“It’s kind of a combination of three things at once,” Dannenhoffer said. “The B.1.1.7 and P.1 variants are becoming more common, and people have slacked off on masking and taking other safety measures.”
The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in England, has been attributed to an equivalent 50% increase in transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The P.1 variant strain, first detected in Japan and Brazil, has also been shown to spread more rapidly with more severe symptoms than the original SARS-CoV-2 variant, according to the CDC.
The Oregon Health Authority announced 21 COVID-19-related deaths Thursday, pushing the state’s death toll to 2,660. There were 433 new confirmed positive and presumptive cases of the coronavirus statewide.