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COOS COUNTY — A second COVID-19 patient has been hospitalized in Coos County.

New cases are also being reported by Coos Health and Wellness. As of Tuesday, the county had a total of 47 cases, with 10 presumptive positive cases.

When asked if the new hospitalized patient was connected to the two outbreaks of the new coronavirus, Coos Health and Wellness Incident Commander Eric Gleason said he wasn’t sure yet.

“… We’re still trying to track details down,” he said. “I don’t know if they were related to either outbreak.”

Gleason also said there was no update on the first hospitalized COVID-19 patient, who was last reported being in the ICU at Bay Area Hospital.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown’s new pandemic restrictions go into effect to slow the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the state. The new mandate requires the public to wear masks outdoors as well as indoors, while also restricting group gatherings to 10 people. However, this does not apply to workplaces or churches.

Gleason said plans to enforce the new mandate have not been decided by the state yet.

“We as Public Health don’t have the capacity to enforce these types of things, but rather educate as best we can,” he said, though adding that if anyone feels a business is being unsafe by not following the mandate then complaints can be potentially be made to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of course, no formal enforcement or complaint process has been announced so far.

To employees tasked with enforcing the mask rule at various businesses in the county, Gleason acknowledged that it is “hard to tell people ‘no’ in general.”

“It’s not easy to ask people to make a harder decision,” he said. “The easiest decision is to let it go versus to tell someone you have to wear a mask or leave because the reaction could be visceral. The problem is … we won’t be able to remain open as a community if we aren’t willing to have the hard conversation."

He said from a community standpoint, “it makes sense to work together” to keep businesses open than to have the county move backwards toward another shutdown.

“We have a lot of tourism,” he pointed out. “People are coming here because we’re a destination and you don’t know who the person is coming through the door or where they’ve been.”

But wearing masks, he said, protect the people around you and if they wear masks then you are protected in return. If the virus’ spread is slowed, “we can afford to stay open.”

“… (The) alternative is our cases keep going up and go up faster,” Gleason said. “And then we have to go backwards.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or by email at worldnews1@countrymedia.net. Follow her on Twitter: @je_wardwriter.

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