COOS COUNTY — Three new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in Coos County.
Of the total 45 local cases seen of the new coronavirus, 17 are unassociated with the previous Shutter Creek Correctional Institution outbreak.
In the last month, 13 cases were reported in the community.
In just the last two weeks, nine of those 13 cases were reported.
“We need to reverse the path we’re on,” said Brian Leon, epidemiologist with Coos Health and Wellness. “It’s going to be a state-level issue if we get backed up for our opening status.”
During Monday afternoon’s regular press briefing from CHW, Leon said the three new cases are unrelated to the recent COVID-19 cluster outbreaks seen in the county. The three new cases are all adult males from 40 to 60 years old.
“It is not clear if they have been infected within Coos County or outside,” Leon said. “We don’t have those details yet.”
Two of the three live in the same household. All three pursued testing through a doctor and have not been admitted to a hospital. Leon stated that at least two have symptoms that include a cough.
Of the cases seen over the last month, one has been hospitalized. In an update during Monday’s press briefing, Leon said the hospitalized patient was tested for COVID-19 again but the test came back negative. He said this did not come as a surprise since the patient has been sick for four weeks.
“It’s not uncommon that people within a couple of weeks, even if they are still sick, the virus itself is less likely to be detected by a test,” Leon said, adding that as far as he knew the patient was still in the ICU.
When asked whether CHW questions if COVID-19 patients wore a mask if traveling, Leon said they “hesitate to ask questions where answers may not be reliable.”
“I know from interviews, even just getting information like (if) people traveled, (people) get sheepish and know they probably shouldn’t have,” Leon said. “… The people who say the (masks) don’t work — I believe there is no convincing them at this point. They’ve had every medical expert and public health expert telling them they need to wear a mask and if they don’t trust them I’m not sure if anecdotes will work.”
CHW’s Incident Commander Eric Gleason said that “If we can’t find a way as a community to be more mindful of our face coverings and social distancing, we will eventually — if things get much worse — go backwards.”
Gleason said CHW recognizes that data shows increases in COVID-19 cases after major holidays, having seen it after Memorial Day, and are expecting the same now that the Fourth of July has ended.
Leon pointed to a list of eight counties in the state that Gov. Kate Brown placed on a “Watch List" because they have the highest rates of “sporadic” transmission — i.e., cases that do not have a clear epidemiological link to other outbreaks or clusters of infections and therefore indicate that the virus is spreading uncontained in a community.
The counties include Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wasco. The "Watch List" counties will be closely monitored as cases continue to spike. If the cases continue to increase, those counties are at risk of going backwards to earlier reopening phases or be evaluated for other restrictions.
“If we don’t mitigate the case count increase in our own county shortly, we could end up on the same list,” Gleason said.