Coronavirus

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Two Coos County residents died this week after testing positive for COVID-19.

The county's third death was an 83-year-old man who died Wednesday at Bay Area Hospital. He had underlying conditions and tested positive for the virus Nov. 6, according to the state's report of the death.

On Tuesday, Coos Health & Wellness reported the county's second COVID-19-related death of an 81-year-old woman with underlying conditions.

"We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and others who have been impacted by this loss," CHW Assistant Director Eric Gleason wrote in a press release announcing the second death. "This is a sobering reminder that this virus is active in our community."

Case rates for the county suggest that it's active, too: 50 new cases of the virus have been reported in the county since Nov. 20. For comparison, that's more cases than county officials reported in the entire month of September.

Those new cases this week brought the county's pandemic total to at least 418, according to county and state data.

"We have seen increasing cases in Coos County and with the holidays approaching it is more important than ever to continue with the tools we have to control the spread of this disease," Gleason wrote Tuesday. "The best tools that we have are social distancing, wearing masks and contact tracing. As a community we can continue these practices to help protect our most vulnerable members."

The county's new cases joined hundreds of others across the state as the virus continues to spread rapidly in many areas. The state surpassed a total of 70,000 cases since the pandemic began, the Oregon Health Authority announced Thursday.

Another record the state set Tuesday: The most virus-related deaths reported in a single day, at 21.

“We feel pain and sorrow for our neighbors who’ve lost their lives to COVID-19 and the families they leave behind,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “And each death we record is a reminder that COVID-19 is a life-threatening virus that’s easy to catch, a warning that more Oregonians will die if we don’t contain it and a call to action to stop its spread.”

Weekly hospitalizations were at a record high this week too, at 366, according to OHA's data.

The Coos Bay area again saw the county's largest increase in cases this week, according to the state's Wednesday ZIP code data. 24 new cases were reported in that ZIP code between Nov. 18 and 25, joining nine new cases in North Bend-Lakeside, two new cases in Bandon-Langlois and one new case in the Coquille area.

Other South Coast counties were no exception to significant increases in virus transmission this week. 

Curry County reported 34 new cases since Nov. 20, bringing its total to 138 since the pandemic began. Several of the cases have come from related households, according to Sherrié Ward, the county's health officer.

In Douglas County, 150 more people contracted the virus since Nov. 20, bringing the county's total to 907 cases since the pandemic began.

That county also reported two deaths this week, bringing its virus death toll to 17. An 81-year-old man and 91-year-old woman died this Monday, after being admitted to the hospital on Nov. 7 and 18 respectively, according to the county's health department.

Reedsport continues to be a hotspot for the virus, too: As of Wednesday, the 97467 ZIP code reported 19 new cases over the previous week, bringing its total to 48 since the pandemic began.

Under metrics announced by Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday, Coos County is currently considered at "high risk" for spread of the virus. If that level of risk holds when the new metrics take affect next week, state restrictions will change slightly.

Under the "high risk" metrics, indoor dining will be allowed at 25% restaurant capacity, and restaurants will be allowed to open outdoor dining. Gyms and indoor recreation and entertainment businesses will be allowed to open at 25% capacity, and outdoor entertainment and recreation establishments will be allowed 75 participants.

Those new requirements will take affect after the state's "two-week freeze" period ends Dec. 2, and are determined by a county's rate of cases in the community — meaning an increase in COVID cases could require an increase in restrictions.

Douglas County is currently considered "extreme risk" under the state's new reopening metrics, meaning its regulations will be more restrictive. Curry County is currently considered "moderate risk" meaning it'll have slightly less restrictive regulations.

Risk levels will be assessed each week, and will use the last two weeks of data to make risk determinations, health officials said Wednesday.

"So many families have lost so much this year," Brown said. "Unfortunately, now more than ever is the time we must double down on our efforts to stop COVID from spreading."

Reporter Zack Demars can be reached at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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