"Here To Stay": Extreme Heat Will Be Ongoing Public Health Issue In Lane Co.
As temperatures reached record highs over the weekend, the cooling centers at the fairgrounds in Eugene had more than 120 visitors taking respite from the heat.
Lane County Public Health officials reported two reported heat exhaustion situations at Lane Events Center. One required emergency transport to hospital. White Bird’s CAHOOTS helped with the other.
Spokesperson Jason Davis said extreme heat is a public health concern not unlike COVID-19.
“The heat is here to stay. We do need to get used to higher temperatures in the summertime and extended higher temperatures," he said. "You know, COVID was a new experience where we had a global pandemic that was affecting everybody on the planet at once. That was new and unprecedented. Well, so is this kind of heat in Lane County.”
Davis insisted Public Health must adapt too. That means being prepared to stand up cooling centers whenever and wherever they are needed.
Especially at risk during extreme heat waves are the very young, the elderly and the unhoused. When the high pressure heat dome was forecast to cover the Willamette Valley, Davis says the community jumped to action.
Provider response was high at cooling centers over the weekend. Davis acknowledged help from the Red Cross and the Humane Society among other agencies.
Public health staff were on site with COVID-19 vaccines to administer to anyone interested. Reportedely, only two shots were administered. Davis says Public Health plans to continue offering vaccines at future cooling center events and other places where people gather.