It was close, but Coos County will remain at moderate risk after the Oregon Health Authority released its latest county metrics report Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, Coos Health & Wellness Assistant Director Dr. Eric Gleason said Coos County was on the cusp of moving into the high-risk category.
“We are still waiting on metric numbers from the state,” Gleason said. “We think it’s going to be close. Fingers crossed. Our numbers have been fairly good the last week. If we are over, I don’t think it’s going to be long.”
The numbers used to determine county metrics are based on cases over the last two weeks. Coos County has numbers high enough to move up in category a week ago, but the governor’s office issued a “pause, allowing the county to stay in moderate risk for a week to see if conditions changed.
At the time, the governor’s office said most of the new cases in the county were directly related to three events, a church service, wedding and birthday party, rather than community spread.
Gleason reiterated that point Tuesday.
“A bunch of unvaccinated people in a small space without masks,” Gleason said.
He said the spread from those events is now under control, and the county’s numbers have decreased in the last week. Over the long Memorial Day weekend, the county reported six new cases.
As of Tuesday, Coos County reported 14 active COVID cases with two people in the hospital. Since the pandemic began, the county has recorded 2,146 cases, and 36 people have died after contracting COVID.
Gleason said the key to defeating the pandemic is getting enough people vaccinated, and Coos County is falling behind there. While more than 68 percent of adults in Oregon have received at least one vaccine shot, in Coos County only 53.5 percent have.
“We need to get the young people to take it seriously and get vaccinated,” Gleason said. “Like I said last week, you can literally trip and run into a vaccine clinic.”
Gleason said the recent cases in Coos County have certainly shifted toward younger people. With older Coos County residents largely vaccinated, Gleason said the emphasis will be on convincing younger people to take the vaccine. Gleason said more than 500 people received vaccinations since Friday.
“We’re chipping away at it,” he said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Over the last week, the new cases reported across the county have returned to a reasonable amount, Gleason said. The spike from earlier in May was controlled thanks largely to the investigators and contact tracers who work for Coos Health & Wellness.
“We as an organization are pleased with the path we’re on,” Gleason said. “The hiccup the last few weeks was disappointing, but when you break it down, it’s unvaccinated people getting it. We need to get more people vaccinated.”
Gleason added that he doesn’t expect COVID to impact local high school graduation ceremonies, saying the schools have planned ceremonies with COVID in mind.
“I know for a fact North Bend has called me multiple times to discuss a graduation event,” Gleason said. “They are planning for high metrics anyway, which is smart. I think what we are going to see is graduations going on as planned outside.”