Siuslaw News | Governments demand the return of masks
(Editor’s Note: This information was released Tuesday after the printing deadline. This story will be printed in the Saturday edition of Siuslaw News.)
August 11, 2021 – On August 10, the Lane County Commissioners Council unanimously approved a public health emergency notice calling for all individuals, businesses and employers to wear masks in shared indoor public spaces , regardless of vaccine status, due to the current unprecedented increase in COVID cases in Lane County.
Likewise, Oregon Governor Kate Brown held a press conference on Wednesday August 11 to release two new health and safety measures. Vaccination requirement for state employees and statewide indoor mask requirements aim to address peak COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by spread of Delta variant highly contagious.
“Oregon is facing an increase in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 – composed overwhelmingly of unvaccinated individuals – quickly overtaking the darker days of our winter influx,” Brown said. “When our hospitals are full, there will be no room for additional patients needing care, whether it be for COVID-19, a heart attack or stroke, a car collision or a variety of others. emergency situations. If our hospitals run out of staffed beds, all Oregonians will be at risk. “
The Lane County Commission serves as the local health board.
“In the past 24 hours, 264 positive cases have been reported in Lane County – the highest one-day total for the county since the start of the pandemic,” the board wrote in the announcement. . “The number of individuals currently being tracked as infectious in Lane County is the highest by a factor of two from the previous record during the winter wave from November 2020 to January 2021.”
As of August 9, more than 590 people were in hospitals in Oregon, including more than 150
in intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
The number of hospitalizations of Lane County residents with COVID-19 exceeds the daily counts seen during the winter wave and emphasizes the capacity of the local hospital system.
Lane County, as the second largest regional hospital in Oregon, also receives patients from other counties in southwestern Oregon.
Lane County Public Health is working with PeaceHealth Oregon and McKenzie Willamette Medical Center to report hospitalizations related to COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 64 people were hospitalized in the county, including 33 county residents. Fourteen of the state’s COVID-19 ICU patients are in Lane County.
This recent increase is attributed to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), accounts for nearly 100% of new cases in Oregon.
“COVID-19 vaccines remain the most powerful prevention tool against the rapidly spreading Delta variant,” the OHA wrote in its press release. “The OHA predicts that epidemics will continue to occur, especially in communities with low vaccination rates. “
Since the end of July, the OHA has recommended that all people, regardless of their vaccination status, wear a mask indoors in public spaces. The OHA also encourages all Oregon residents to consider masking if they plan to attend crowded outdoor events, especially if they are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 or are living with people who are unvaccinated or at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
The Lane County Emergency Public Health Notice “specifically calls on all people, businesses and employers to ensure indoor masking is followed for those over the age of five (two years and older if they are tolerated), regardless of their vaccination status; maintain a distance from people outside immediate households when they are inside shared indoor spaces; practice good hand washing and sanitary hygiene; and other relevant measures needed to limit the ongoing community spread and save lives in Lane County, and should begin or resume immediately for anyone who has not yet adopted these practices.
Earlier this week, Multnomah County adopted a similar mask measure.
The governor backed up this message by saying that city and county leaders have asked him for local control and the ability to make local public health decisions regarding COVID-19. Brown then thanked county leaders for “taking bold steps to slow the spread of the Delta variant in our communities.”
She also said the action can’t stop with one or two counties.
“I call on local leaders to take action now to put in place mask requirements,” Brown said. “At this point in the pandemic, local leaders are in a unique position to help carry the message to members of their communities about effective safety measures like immunizations and masks. But the fact remains, we have a finite number of staffed hospital beds in Oregon. If local leaders continue to fail to act and their regional hospitals exceed capacity, it will impact hospitals statewide. We will continue to explore the statewide health measures needed to prevent the Delta variant from stretching Oregon hospitals beyond their full capacity. “
In the state, groundbreaking cases – where fully or partially vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID – account for about 20% of current cases.
“The latest science is clear: Although unvaccinated people are more likely to contract the disease, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread the Delta variant,” Brown said. “Masks are a simple and effective way to make sure you don’t unknowingly infect your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. “
New modeling from the OHA and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) predicts that without new health and safety interventions, COVID-19-related hospitalizations will far exceed the capacity of the healthcare system of Oregon over the next few weeks. Without these additional mitigation measures, Oregon could run out of up to 500 hospital beds with what will be needed to treat inpatients for any reason by September.
“There are two keys to saving lives. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from serious illness, hospitalization and death. And, by wearing masks, all of us – vaccinated and unvaccinated – can help ensure that a hospital bed staffed with healthcare professionals is available for our loved ones when needed, ”Brown continued. “If we all do our part, we can defeat COVID-19 once and for all, keep our economy open and thriving, and get our kids back to class with minimal disruption in a matter of weeks. “
The governor also announced that all employees in the executive branch of the state of Oregon will need to be fully immunized by October 18, or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration, whichever is later.
The requirement will apply to all employees of the executive, including employees working for all agencies in the State of Oregon, and in consultation with elected officials of the State of Oregon, employees of the Oregon State Treasury and the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, as well as employees of the Oregon Office. of Labor & Industries and the Oregon Department of Justice.
Employees will be required to present proof of vaccination by the deadline. People unable to get the vaccine because of a disability or sincere religious belief may benefit from an exception, as required by federal and state laws. Employees in the state of Oregon will not be able to have weekly tests instead of showing proof of vaccination.
“Vaccines are safe and effective, and they are the safest way to keep Oregonians from ending up in intensive care units,” Brown said. “I’m taking action to help ensure that Oregon state workplaces are safe for employees and customers, and I strongly encourage all public and private employers to follow suit by requiring immunizations. of their employees. The only way to permanently stop the spread of COVID-19 is with vaccination. “
The vaccination requirement does not apply to employees of the legislative and judicial branches of the Oregon government, although the governor encourages leaders of both branches to consider a similar requirement.
“After a year and a half of this pandemic, I know Oregonians are tired of the health and safety restrictions. This new mask requirement won’t last forever, but it’s a step that can save lives right now. This will help protect all of us, including those who are immunocompromised and our children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, ”said Brown. “Masks are a simple and effective tool that will keep our schools, businesses and communities open. “
To learn more about COVID-19 and vaccination efforts in Oregon, visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus and covidvaccine.oregon.gov, as well as lanecounty.org/coronavirus and lanecounty.org/vaxclinics.