ROSEBURG, Ore. – While Lane County moves down to moderate risk on Friday, Douglas and Coos counties will be staying in the extreme risk category for two more weeks.
Public health officials from both counties said they are not surprised by the news, especially as case numbers continue to rise.
In Douglas County, 255 cases were reported in the past two weeks. That’s above the requirement that counties need to be under 200 cases per 100,000 people in order to go into the high risk category.
Public health officer Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer said a lot of their cases are coming from workplace outbreaks, schools and too many people attending large gatherings.
He also said there was a lot opportunity for community spread as the county was in high risk for two months earlier this year.
“Many of the other communities have only been open for a few weeks,” said Dannehoffer. “And I think being open for a while, more disease spreads. So we do have a higher background of disease."
In Coos County, 239 cases were reported in the past two weeks. Since the state announced the risk levels last year, there hasn’t been much movement for Coos County. They started off in high risk in December and then eventually moved into extreme risk. Then, they went back to high risk in January, but only for two weeks before they went back to extreme. They have been at extreme risk ever since.
Coos Health and Wellness assistant director Eric Gleason said it’s hard to see the numbers go up every week, especially as other counties make progress.
“Our area is being hit because I think there’s a fair amount of fatigue,” he said. “We went hard and fast when it was something that didn’t really hit our community at that point. People are tired of it and want to go back to what they think their version of normal is.”
Dannenhoffer and Gleason said the only way to get out of this position is to continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols, like wearing a mask, social distancing and staying away from large crowds.
However, one Douglas County resident said he worries nothing will change anytime soon.
“It’s horrible,” said Ken Wheeler. “Especially because I have to live here. I’m doing my part to keep from spreading or catching it myself but I think other people are not doing the same. If people can’t figure things out we’ll keep it the way it is.”
The counties’ risk levels will be re-evaluated on Mar. 22 by the Oregon Health Authority.