Coos Health & Wellness

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Another Coos County resident has died with COVID-19 as the county teeters on the edge of stricter pandemic restrictions.

A 49-year-old man with underlying conditions died with the virus, Coos Health & Wellness announced Tuesday. He was the 13th person in the county to die with the virus.

Another virus outbreak was reported at Coos Bay’s Bayside Terrace assisted living facility, the second nursing facility to report an outbreak in the past month. State officials reported a total of three cases associated with that facility as of Wednesday.

Cases have been continuously on the rise in recent weeks, and after a brief stint in the “high” risk category of COVID-19 restrictions, Coos County could return to stricter rules as soon as next week.

The back-and-forth of virus restrictions has to do with the county’s case count, according to Coos Health & Wellness Assistant Director Dr. Eric Gleason. Since the county had just under 200 cases per 100,000 in population for the two-week period ending Jan. 4, it qualified for a lower level of precautions than before.

“We honestly had an anomaly that knocked us down to 199.1,” Gleason said Tuesday.

But now, as of the data state officials released Jan. 5, that number is back up to about 213, putting the county into a “warning week” in the state’s framework.

“Unless that number drops below the 200 next Monday (Jan. 11), we will go to extreme (risk restrictions) the following Friday,” Gleason said.

The “extreme risk” level of restrictions would revert the county to where it was in late December, with indoor dining closed and indoor gyms shuttered.

While it’s impossible to predict the future, cases have continued to trend upwards in recent weeks. December saw over 350 cases of the virus in the county, and the first four days of January added 52 more.

County health officials didn’t see the post-Thanksgiving spike they expected, but Gleason said that cases still rose in correlation with the holidays. It can be a challenge to connect cases to sources and to one another because that process relies on self-reported information, according to Gleason.

“Our cases have been pretty steady on average,” Gleason said.

Fortunately, COVID-19 vaccinations have been continuing in the county. Coos Health & Wellness vaccinated a handful of first responders and emergency service workers, and 1,050 total county residents had been vaccinated as of Tuesday, the third-highest rate per capita of Oregon counties.

“Our vaccine numbers that we’re seeing cause some optimism,” Gleason said. “That being said, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.”

He added that continued caution is still necessary to slow the spread until more people can get the vaccine, since doses have been limited to health care workers and nursing home patients and staff thus far.

“We can’t just leverage everything on the vaccine. We need the vaccine, and we also need to still be mindful of the preventative measures,” Gleason said.

Oregon's weekly report

According to data released by the Oregon Health Authority Wednesday, Oregon saw an increase in daily cases between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 compared to the last week, the first week of a decrease in three weeks.

Hospitalizations increased slightly of the same timeframe, and daily deaths decreased over the previous week.

People between ages 20 and 49 have accounted for over half of the state's virus cases, though 77% of virus deaths have been attributed to people over 70.

In Coos County, Coos Bay saw the largest increase in virus cases, with 40 new cases bringing its total to 389. The North Bend ZIP code reported 18 new cases for a total of 223, and Bandon reported 4 for a total of 47.

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

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